The first ever Eastern Partnership (EaP) formal ministerial meeting on environment and climate change took place today in Luxembourg with the participation of Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Johannes Hahn. The EU and the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) adopted a Ministerial Declaration, confirming their joint commitment to stepping up cooperation on environmental challenges and climate change, and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development.
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: "Given the proximity of the European Union and the Eastern Partner countries, as well as the trans-boundary nature of environmental and climate challenges, cooperation between us is imperative. Today we agreed on the need to cooperate in key areas which have a positive impact on citizens' lives and health - Reducing air and water pollution, for example, and creating new jobs through a shift to a green economy. This also means addressing international challenges together, including the implementation pf the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change."
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations said: "Environmental protection and climate action is not only our duty, it is a good investment that will result in new jobs, higher revenues, and a more resilient economy. Thanks to EU support, SMEs across the Eastern Partnership region are being made aware of green economy opportunities and are starting to utilise them. The EU will continue to support Eastern Partnership countries in their efforts to build a resource and energy-efficient economy, to the benefit of all our citizens."
Ministers for environment and climate change from EU Member States and Eastern Partner countries discussed opportunities for cooperation on environmental governance and the green economy. They stressed the need to shift towards the sustainable and integrated management of natural resources and sustainable consumption and production in line with circular economy principles. They highlighted the opportunities that environmental protection offers to the private sector and industry to stimulate economic growth.
During the afternoon session on Climate Action, Ministers will look at how to bring forward the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Discussions focused on the question of how Eastern Partner countries can develop low-emission and climate-resilient economies, including by exploiting the great potential for energy savings in the region.
The ministers agreed to meet in two years to assess progress on cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partner countries. In the meantime, they tasked the Eastern Partnership Panel on Environment and Climate Change to draft and implement an action plan translating into practice the provisions of the Declaration.
The Ministerial meeting on Environment and Climate Change is co-organised by the European Commission and the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission is represented by Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for European Neighbourhood Policy. The EU and Eastern Partner countries are represented by the ministers, state secretaries and senior officials for environment and climate change.
The main body to steer the Ministerial process and follow up on the commitments of the Declaration will be the existing Eastern Partnership Panel on Environment and Climate Change. The Panel brings together the European Commission, EU member states and Eastern Partner country experts, as well as civil society organisations to discuss the progress on environment and climate change, share best practices and facilitate cooperation and coordination on regional programmes.
The Eastern Partnership is a framework ofcooperation between the EU, including its Member States and the six countries of the Eastern Neighbourhood. Support in the field of environment and climate change for Eastern Partner countries is of strategic importance for the EU to achieve objectives inside the EU and to improve the quality of life of the citizens in partner countries. The EU is committed to supporting the shift to better environmental governance, low-emission development and a greener economy in the Eastern Partner countries. The EU funded regional projects such as Shared Environmental Information Systems East, Greening Economies in Eastern Neighbourhood and Clima East: Supporting Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Eastern Neighbourhood countries and Russia are supporting these efforts.