EU candidate countries to join the European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has become the first European body to open its doors to the 13 candidate countries before their accession, through the adoption of a series of proposals by the Commission, announced on 16 January.

This milestone in the enlargement process means that Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey could start joining the Agency gradually during 2001, upon ratification of the agreements.

As EEA members, the candidate countries will have to contribute financially to the running of the Agency, and will have to establish the infrastructure to provide regular environmental data. However, their participation in the Agency will also offer numerous benefits to both the candidates and Europe as a whole (see related story). The EEA will assist in establishing and operating monitoring systems within the countries, and can assist in implementing environmental laws, permitting them to become familiarised with the Union’s policies and working methods. During the first three years of participation in the industry, the candidate countries can also obtain financial assistance for setting up data collection networks.

In order for the Commission’s proposals to come into effect, they will have to be ratified by the Council of Ministers and each candidate country.

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