The political upheavals of the early 1990s, inclusion in negotiations on international environmental protection treaties, and the prospect of new EU accession states confronted the region with a completely new set of problems. Germany and the UBA are highly qualified to provide advice and support for this transformation process for any number of reasons, including Germany’s experience with the establishment and revamping of environmental policy infrastructures and agencies in the former East Germany during the 1990s, as well as the fact that Germany has pioneered environmental technology development worldwide.
The political transformation in Eastern Europe over two decades ago set the stage for stringent environmental policies. Even before EU accession negotiations got underway, Germany concluded bilateral environmental agreements with some of the candidate states. The Eastern and Central European nations that joined the EU in 2004 underwent extremely rapid transformation, whereby the need to implement the EU’s stringent environmental standards led to impressive legislative dynamism. Nonetheless, implementing such standards will remain an enormous challenge for many years to come for a number of reasons, including the necessary structural change, the presence of large numbers of contaminated sites and the need for extensive capital investment. Continued support of these efforts is a top priority for the German government.
The German government cooperates not only with the states that joined the EU between 2004 and 2013, but also with the current accession candidates Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The government also cooperates with the ENPI Eastern Regional Program states and other West Balkan and central Asian states. The main goal of these efforts is to implement the ENPI Eastern Regional Program, which involves an agreement between the EU and the partner countries concerning specific areas such as environmental or economic reform goals. To meet these goals, it is necessary to lay the institutional groundwork for sustainable development and assist the signatory states with the process of ratifying and implementing international environmental treaties.
For the cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and further the EU neighboring countries, UBA uses various instruments. The Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment enables the exchange and transfer of knowledge and experience in the target region to strengthen the local environmental authorities, raise environmental standards and prepare environmental investments. UBA provides technical and administrative support for projects in our competence.
Twinning is an instrument that was created by the European Commission in the wake of EU expansion. In light of Twinning’s tremendous success, it will be extended to include not only EU accession or candidate states but also other EU member states. The UBA provides support for government environmental policies that are likely to promote the forging of EU funded administrative partnerships for the purpose of helping officials in these states to implement EU legislation (the acquis) and develop modern public administrations.
TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument), a European Commission instrument, supports both public and private sector actors that play a pivotal role in approximation, implementation and enforcement of EU laws in the relevant states. On request, the UBA provides expertise concerning specific areas – for example by dispatching staff to places where their assistance is needed, by elaborating concepts for study abroad, and through UBA lectures.
Since 2008 we have been active in the European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) program for this region (the program was formerly known as INTERREG).
Within the framework of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund, measures aimed at eliminating environmental problems, particularly in northwest Russia, are funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). The funds are used for large sewage treatment and waste projects, as well as for municipal heating system modernization. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety helps finance the fund and has a say in project selection, a process for which the UBA regularly provides statements of position on technical matters and contributes its technical expertise.