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News from the

April 2015


The Team participates in
the International days

Among the international days, the has chosen some key environmental events in which the various Partners will organise joint and simultaneous activities in Albania, Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic of), Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244/99), Serbia and Turkey. 

Let's have a look at the calendar on the website!
Spring in Serbia

News from partners


All countries: training programme

Distance learning courses:
a)“Social media, Activism and participation”, The course on social media (read more):  Next e-trainings: 22nd - 6th May 2015 and 28th May - 11th June 2015.
b) “Get funding from the European Union”, the course developed by regards the EU as resource partner (read more).  Next e-trainings: 12th - 26th May 2015.
To take part, interested participants should first register to the e-learning platform here and then choose the course to attend from the "course catalogue". Further inquiries about the course may be sent to (or click here).

In-country news: in action

Albania: On April 14th and 20th, the team in Albania participated in two public hearings organised by the Ministry of Environment. The first one was on a new by-law “On Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments for Cross-border projects”, which is part of EU Directive on EIA requirements. In the meeting participated representatives from the NGOs, environmental attorneys and from private businesses interested in the issue. The second one was "On approval of rules, content, update and publication of statistical data on waste”. Representatives from the ministry made a short presentation of the by-laws explaining all annexes to be filled in with waste data by local and national authorities.

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: The Partners, 4x4x4 Balkan Bridges finalised a compiled document on the Chapter 27 for Macedonia from 2007-2014, and relevant information on the national environmental legislation related to the horizontal legislation, water and climate change, which in the next period will be used to identify the progress/gaps with regard to the approximation to EU acquis.
Activities of the team from Macedonia included the participation in the final Conference "Developing a plan for safe water and sanitation in rural communities". The event was used to present the project with special emphasis on the prospect of joint actions in the area of ​​water (read more). 

Kosovo under UNSCR 1244/99: The European Commission started a new round of dialogue with the environmental NGO’s in the enlargement region – Environmental and Climate Forum (ECF), which is now integral part of the ECRAN project. The aim of the forum is to strengthen the role of public participation in the approximation process and accession process. On 21st April 2015, Kosovo Institute for Policy Development together with the Partner, ATRC, organized 2nd Preparatory Meeting of the Environmental and Climate Forum in Kosovo. Participants were representatives from NGOs, governmental authorities, academia and other stakeholders. Key objectives of the meeting were to create space for discussion between authorities, decision makers and civil society representatives, to discuss progress in the negotiations, identify key challenges and explore possibilities for the national dialogue on the EU enlargement process and to provide inputs for the annual meeting in Brussels.

Serbia: Environmental Ambassadors for Sustainable Development, the partner from Serbia, is organising The Eleventh Regional Conference ”Environment to Europe” EnE15 –, with the title: EU Horizontal Legislation: Methods, Standards and Tools, which will be held on June 5th 2015 in Belgrade (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia, Terazije 23). Conference is UNEP WED event, supporting EU Integration process through the project ’’Development of the in West Balkans and Turkey: giving citizens a voice to influence the environmental process reforms for closer EU integration’’. Conference is ESDW (European Sustainable Development Week) event.

Turkey: EU Delegation in Turkey announced a call for CSO contributions to the 2015 Progress Report earlier in April. TEMA Foundation, the partner from Turkey, in cooperation with KADOS and academicians from Marmara University prepared the contribution to the Progress Report. The highlighted aspects for the report was the recent change in the EIA Legislation, and energy investments in nuclear and coal based thermal power plants. The same concerns raised in the CSO contribution for 2014 progress report, namely Turkey not being party to the Aarhus Convention, lack of a Framework Law on Water and SEA Legislation, lack of the identification of Natura 2000 sites in Turkey and the CSO criticism on the Draft Law on Biodiversity Conservation are repeated for this year's contribution.

News from the EU

I.  Commission authorises 17 GMOs for food/feed uses and 2 GM carnations. On 24 April 2015 the European Commission adopted 10 new authorisations for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for food/feed use, 7 renewals of existing authorisations and also the authorisation for the importation of 2 GMO cut flowers (not for food or feed). These GMOs had gone through a full authorisation procedure, including a favourable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The authorisation decisions do not cover cultivation.  For more info, click here.
Reaction from the European Parliament has been less than enthusiastic. Criticising the decision, Green food safety spokesperson Bart Staes said:   â€œIt is deeply cynical that the Commission is waving through the authorisation of 19 GMOs in the same week it formally acknowledged the fundamental flaws with the authorisation process and presented proposals to revise this. Giving the go-ahead to these GMOs is an affront to democracy: a majority of EU member states voted against the authorisation of almost all of these GMOs in Council and there is a clear and consistent majority of EU citizens saying no to GMOs. It is further democratic blow that these approvals were carried out by a simple and opaque written procedure, rather than by a formal decision of the Commission. See the press release here
II. New biodegradable waste management plans proposed and evaluated. Researchers have designed and proposed a new organic waste management plan for Catalonia, Spain, and presented it in a recent study. They say that the plan would reduce a number of environmental impacts that arise from landfilling biodegradable waste, including natural resource depletion, acidification, and eutrophication (read more). 
III. Nearly Zero Energy Buildings definitions across Europe. Ambitious requirements for energy performance in buildings are an effective way to foster innovation and achieve a significant reduction of GHG emissions and energy use, contributing to the energy independence of the EU. In order to further stimulate an increased number of energy efficient buildings, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD, 2010/31/EC) introduced the definition of nZEB as a building with very high energy performance where the nearly zero or very low amount of energy  required should be extensively covered by renewable sources produced on-site or nearby. The EPBD foresees that after 31  December 2020, all new buildings will be nZEBs, while for public buildings the deadline is set for 31 December 2018 (read more).
IV. Officials accuse Timmermans of delaying EU health, food safety rules. A growing number of officials in the European Commission's health unit are complaining that health and food safety legislation is being delayed due to slow decision-making from Frans Timmermans, the Commission's First Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation (read more).
V. Phase-out of inefficient lamps postponed to 1 September 2018. On 17 April 2015 Member States agreed to the Commission's proposal to postpone the phase-out of inefficient "D"-class halogen lamps by two years to 1 September 2018. The vote was preceded by a thorough review process open to the public, examining the best way forward. Many stakeholders contributed actively to this assessment, such as Members of the European Parliament, Member States authorities, the lighting industry, consumer organisations and environmental NGOs (read more).
VI.  EU Sustainable Energy Week 2015: Your chance to get involved in the 10th edition! All over Europe and beyond, people are signing up to participate – in their own unique ways – in the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), the biggest international initiative promoting secure, clean and efficient energy. For more info, click here.
VII. EU Commission forced into greater transparency by European Court.  On 16 April the General Court of the EU ruled in favour of former Green MEP Carl Schlyter in a case against the European Commission regarding access to documents. Under the terms of the ruling, the Commission will be obliged to make documents involving its investigations into national legislation proposed by EU member states available to the public (read more). 
VIII. Citizen science could address impact of global change on biodiversity. Citizen science holds the potential to address some of the biggest concerns facing biodiversity researchers, according to a new study. The study found that volunteers already save biodiversity research huge sums of money, but that their  contributions are underused.
IX. Ministers stress importance of integrating biodiversity preservation in other policies. On 14 April, the meeting of the Environment Ministers opened the three-day informal meeting of the European Union Environment and Energy Ministers. The Environment Ministers focused on biodiversity preservation and the international climate change negotiations aimed towards reaching a new global agreement on post-2020 climate change mitigation at the Paris Climate Change Conference in December. The informal meeting takes place under the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
X. Problems with EU biofuels policy prolonged under compromised new rules. On 14 April the European Parliament's environment committee voted to endorse an agreement reached between the Parliament and EU governments on new EU rules on biofuels. The rules had aimed at curbing the negative impact on the climate associated with indirect land use change (ILUC) due to biofuel production and the problems associated with fuel crops but the Greens expressed concern that the final deal will fail to do so. See EEB's reaction here.

Latest from the region

EU Delegation In Albania
The EU launches new 2014-2020 Cross Border Cooperation Programme with FYRoM (15/04/2015) - On Wednesday, 15 April 2015, the new Cross-Border Cooperation Programme with FYRoM funded under IPA II 2014-2020 was presented in Struga (read more).


Funding opportunities

The European Union Office in Kosovo is seeking proposals which objective is to enable and stimulate a participatory democracy in Kosovo by creating an environment which promotes partnership and dialogue between civil society and public institutions.
Support to Strategic CSO Coalitions (read more).
The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 June 2015.

Frequently Asked Questions of the month

Q: What does exactly mean Civil Society Organisations (CSO) for the EU?
A: There is always some confusion about the term "CSO". Reading the communication from the Commission [Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission, COM(2002) 704] it is assumed that the term may be used as shorthand to refer to a range of organisations which includes: “the labour-market players (i.e. trade unions and employers federations – the “social partners”); organisations representing social and economic players, which are not social partners in the strict sense of the term (for instance, consumer organisations); NGOs (non-governmental organisations), which bring people together in a common cause, such as environmental organisations, human rights organisations, charitable organisations, educational and training organisations, etc.; CBOs (community-based organisations), i.e. organisations set up within society at grassroots level which pursue member-oriented objectives, e.g. youth organisations, family associations and all organisations through which citizens participate in local and municipal life; and religious communities”.

See what's going on in partners' countries

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.
The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of consortium and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union


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