Negotiations on enlargement of the European Environment Agency opened
On 27 March the formal negotiations for membership of the European Environment Agency kicked off in Brussels with all 13 candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
From the EU side, DG Environment (chair), DG Enlargement and the Agency participated.
The Agency is the first EU body open for membership to the countries that have applied for EU membership. The significance of the enlargement of the Agency goes therefore far beyond purely environmental matters, helping to demonstrate that EU takes the whole enlargement process seriously.
Agreements with the candidate countries will be negotiated individually. At the kick-off meeting, each country was presented with a draft agreement. It is hoped that the first agreements can be concluded by summer and ratified by the EU and applicant countries by the end of the year, leaving the way open for the first countries to join the Agency at the beginning of next year.
The new members will have the same rights and obligations as EU Member States, apart from the right to vote in Management Board on the rare occasions when this is necessary. Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway are members of the Agency with the same status.