The Federal Environment Ministry launched its advisory assistance programme for environmental protection in Central and Eastern Europe in 2000. It is intended to help the EU accession states adopt and implement European environmental law. Furthermore, it promotes projects in the successor states of the former Soviet Union that serve as examples of how the environment can be improved. In addition to this, it supports cooperation projects in the Western Balkans. Mongolia and the Mediterranean coastal states have been included in the programme since January 2015. The advisory assistance programme is helping to create the institutional conditions essential for sustainable development in these regions. At the same time, it therefore supports the measures agreed within the framework of the Environmental Action Programme for Central and Eastern Europe.
The German Environment Agency is responsible for the technical supervision of the projects, as well as the administrative aspects of the programme’s management. In this respect, it acts on behalf of the Federal Environment Ministry.
The idea of the advisory assistance programme is to facilitate exchanges of knowledge and experience. It is used to improve environmental management systems on the ground, raise environmental standards and optimise environmental investments.
Another key priority is the technical preparation and consolidation of the Twinning projects in which Germany is involved. One example of this is the support given to the Slovenian and Romanian environmental authorities during their transposition into national law and implementation of the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC Directive). To give another example: when the European Union extended its Twinning instrument, preparatory seminars were held in Armenia and Croatia. These events provided basic information about the Twinning programme and helped to identify areas of legislation where adjustments would be required. Furthermore, they developed examples of projects on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIP).
2.24 million euros were available under the programme each year up to 2009, a figure that was raised to 2.74 million euros as of 2010. In total, funding in excess of 24 million euros has been provided for more than 300 projects; the average financial volume of the projects is approximately 65,000 euros. About two thirds of the projects run for longer than a year. Apart from improving administrative capacities, the main thematic priorities are, above all, water/wastewater/water pollution control, industrial environmental protection, waste management and the promotion of regional cooperation.
Substantive priorities for the advisory assistance programme
- Technical advice and support for the transposition, implementation and enforcement of European environmental law in the accession states;
- advisory assistance for the technical preparation and consolidation of Twinning projects under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) programmes, as well as INTERREG, a Community initiative launched by the European Regional Development Fund to promote cooperation between the regions of the European Union;
- support for the drafting of environmental policy programmes and strategies;
- development of model projects and examples of best practice designed to help introduce production technologies that are environmentally benign and conserve resources; transfer of modern environmental and environmental protection technologies;
- preparation of capital projects, primarily in the fields of water and waste management;
- measures to raise environmental awareness, above all through the promotion of projects run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs);
- support for transnational cooperation.
Criteria for the development of projects
Thematic priorities are established:
- at joint lead group meetings on bilateral environmental agreements;
- in dialogue with the country in question, based on its particular needs;
- in conformity with international strategies and programmes, such as the European Commission’s progress reports for the accession countries and the Environmental Action Programme for the EECCA states;
- in accordance with the Regional Environmental Network for Accession (RENA) programme for the Western Balkan states
The projects’ key features are
- their model character,
- their orientation towards sustainability,
- their delivery of the greatest possible benefits for the environment,
- their leverage and multiplier effects,
- their utilisation of existing cooperation structures,
- the policy effectiveness of their measures.
Advisory assistance prioritises the states that joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007, the EU accession candidates and the states of the Western Balkans: These regions currently attract more than 50 percent of the available funding. This is helping to bring the level of environmental protection in these countries up to the standards of the European Union. The advice provided in these countries is concerned, among other things, with the transposition, implementation and enforcement of European environmental directives. Apart from this, the programme promotes greater public participation, as envisaged in the Water Framework Directive, the IPPC Directive and the Aarhus Convention. A further aim is to strengthen regional and local authority environmental bodies.
The states of Central Asia have also become more significant as a region to which funding is directed under the advisory assistance programme. Very often, projects there are concerned with fundamental measures in the water and waste management sectors; other prominent fields are action to raise environmental awareness and support for NGOs. Another important topic in this region is transnational cooperation, for instance in the field of water pollution control. Overall, the advisory assistance programme is therefore contributing to the implementation of the German Federal Government’s Central Asia Strategy as well.
The Russian Federation and the ECCAA states are also important target countries for the advisory assistance programme. Here, the emphasis is placed on dialogue about the experience that has been gained of environmental technologies and the approximation of national regulations to EU standards.
It is hoped that the cooperation between the states of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia will improve. In consequence, it is often the case that several partners are involved in projects with the states covered by the new Neighbourhood Policy, the enlarged European Union’s new neighbours. Examples of this are the transfrontier projects on water pollution control in the Dniester river basin (Ukraine and Republic of Moldova), risk management in the Danube Delta (Romania, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova), the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Region of Russia, and water management in the Polish-Ukrainian Bug und San river basins. The support provided for the conference on Strategies for Sustainable Development of the Caspian Sea held by the Caspian littoral states at Baku in October 2007 also helped to improve cooperation between these countries.
Due to the participation of the MENA countries in the southern partnership (political proximity to Europe) there is also more involvement of the Mediterranean countries in environmental cooperation through the advisory assistance programme. In particular bilateral cooperation is to be strengthened with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.
As part of its transnational cooperation activities, the Federal Environment Ministry also promotes projects run by institutions that are striving to advance transregional cooperation. These include the Regional Environmental Centres (RECs) in the Caucasus and the Central Asian states.