On the eve of enlargement of the EEA:
Today, the Management Board held its fifth and last annual meeting with top executives from candidate countries in central and eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. From next year (provided ratification procedures are completed by then) the Agency will have 13 new members, making a total of 31 countries.
The candidate countries joining the Agency is the first tangible proof that enlargement of the EU is on its way. The Agency is thus playing a pioneering role in the whole enlargement process.
In his summing up of the discussions, the Chairman of the Board, Kees Zoeteman, highlighted the fact that enlargement will give new perspectives for the work of the Agency in the coming years. This is due to the different environmental characteristics of the new geographical areas covered and the environmental priorities of the new members. Issues like water shortage, transboundary air pollution, and forests and biodiversity, though already relevant for the work of the Agency, were likely to become even more important in the future. He also pointed to th