Directors of the EPA Network met Frans Timmermans

Meeting with EU COM First Vice-President TimmermansClick to enlarge
Meeting with EU COM First Vice-President Timmermans
Source: Martina Haydn - UBA Österreich

A delegation of directors from Environmental Protection Agencies across Europe (EPA Network) met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans to discuss a paper with recommendations compiled by the group.

Calling for an ambitious implementation of 7th European Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) the directors exchanged views on how to implement the programme which sets out clear objectives for addressing many pressing environmental challenges faced today and supports the transition toward long-term sustainability.

Addressing the issue of sustainable development, Commissioner Timmermans expressed his intentions for a renewed political strategy underpinned by a holistic approach across sectors beginning also with the Commission. He added that sustainable development is to play an important role in projects set out to realize Commission President Juncker’s Investment Plan. He conceded that there will be challenges in overcoming entrenched ways of working and ‘silo’ mentalities across EU institutions. In particular, Timmermans argues for an increased focus on instruments for achieving goals to be attained; legislation in his view has become overly prescriptive and would benefit from careful scrutiny. He also called for greater transparency in delegating acts intending to open up processes allowing for lengthier consultation periods.

Commissioner Timmermans expressed an interest in capitalizing on scientific results from agencies and academia as well harnessing innovations especially at city level to spur sustainable development. The urban agenda is expected to be of heightened focus. It was agreed that urban centers pose complex environmental challenges yet are often the site of solutions and setting pathways for a sustainable future. The delegation of environmental agencies further offered to share their knowledge as practitioners on issues of eco-regulation, public procurement, environmentally harmful subsidies, the circular economy, the urban environment and complex nexus systems such as links between biodiversity, food and energy.