Summary of EEA Management Board meeting of 20 March 2001
The Management Board of the EEA met on 20 March 2001 at the Agencys headquarters in Copenhagen. The meeting was chaired by Kees Zoeteman, chairman of the Management Board and deputy Director General for Environment at the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment.
The main agenda items were as follows:
- New European Topic Centres
- Information report by the Executive Director
- Preparation for enlargement of the Agencys membership and budget
- Election of vice-chairman of the Board
- Preparations for appointment of next Executive Director
- Preparation of Management Board seminar
- European Parliament questions
The Board decided by majority vote to designate the Autonomous University of Barcelona as lead organisation for the new European Topic Centre on terrestrial environment. It also ratified contracts with the four other new Topic Centres, which will cover water, air and climate change, nature and biodiversity, and waste and material flows. For further details, please see the separate press release.
The Executive Director of the EEA, Domingo Jiménez-Beltrán, presented an overview of the main areas in which the Agency is or could be supporting policy needs. These areas are:
- The European Commissions priorities for 2001
- The 6th Environment Action Programme (6EAP)
- Integration of environment into sectorial policies
- The forthcoming EU sustainable development strategy
- Enlargement of the EU and EEA
- Council presidency priorities
- The September 2002 meeting of European environment ministers in Kiev
- The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg
- Monitoring progress, through benchmarking and accountability. In addition to the EEAs pluri-annual reports on the state of and outlook for Europes environment, this would be done through annual reporting or periodic updates in the form of environmental indicators, thematic assessments, assessments of sectorial integration and headline indicators.
- Supporting policy, in particular development of the specific Thematic Plans announced in the 6EAP. The EEA could help lay the groundwork for these with thematic state-of-the-environment assessments. It could also contribute to their implementation through its support for moves to streamline the EU reporting process.
- Dissemination of information, including best practice.
Regarding support for the Swedish presidency of the Council, the Executive Director cited the following initiatives:
- Input on biodiversity to the Kiruna informal Council of environment ministers
- Drafting the 2001 TERM report on integration of transport and environment
- Development of draft indicators on energy and environment
- Assessment of progress with integration into other sectors using available indicators, and development of common criteria and indicators for assessing integration in all sectors
- EEA co-organisation of or participation in various presidency seminars, conferences etc.
In response, the European Commission representative, David Grant Lawrence, stated that the Commission saw a clear role for the Agency in monitoring the 6EAP.
The Executive Director also provided an update on how the EEA is following up on the conclusions of an evaluation of the first five years operation of the Agency and the EIONET. He said internal discussions on a revised EEA strategy and new internal organization were advancing well and should be concluded by end-April. A report on these will be made to the next Management Board meeting on 10 July.
As of the end of February four of the applicant countries - Bulgaria, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus - had ratified agreements to become EEA members. The chairman of the Board also announced that the Commissions Directorate-General for External Relations had given its approval for EEA membership negotiations to start with Switzerland.
The Management Board approved revised Rules of Procedure which, among other things, strengthen the executive powers of the Bureau in view of the forthcoming enlargement of the Agencys membership to 31 countries. The Board also agreed to open membership of the EEAs Scientific Committee to experts from new member countries but to increase the number of committee members to no more than 20, from 16 now, in order to keep the committees size manageable.
Also on the agenda was an addendum to the Agencys work programme for 2001 to prepare Board decisions on further activities to be funded from additional membership fees once new member countries join. The additional budget from these membership fees is estimated for this year at between EUR 3 million and 5.78 million. Board members were invited to submit written comments on the addendum. The addendum and a revised 2001 budget will be tabled for approval at the July Board meeting, by which time it is hoped that some applicant countries will already be EEA members.
Turning to next year, the Board approved a draft estimate of the 2002 budget which assumes EUR 21.0 million in core funding from the Commission, an increase of EUR 2.0 million over this years initial level. The Agency is seeking this rise to extend its work on sustainable development and strengthen its information activities related to the Mediterranean. Both are key policy priorities for the Commission.
The staff funded by the core subvention in 2002 would remain unchanged from this years authorized total of 83. However, it is proposed that other contributions and income should fund a further 23 staff, compared with six this year.
Steen Gade, Director General of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, was elected a vice-chairman of the Management Board. He replaces Markku Nurmi, Director General of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, who has been a vice-chairman since the Management Boards inception in 1994, serving two consecutive three-year terms. The Board warmly thanked Mr Nurmi for his long service and dedication. For further details, please see the separate press release.
In view of the Executive Directors planned departure from the Agency in June 2002, the Commission representative circulated a preliminary first draft of the profile that candidates to succeed him would be required to match. He said the Commissions legal service was examining whether non-EU nationals were eligible to apply. The Commission intends to publish a call for applications before the summer break. The Commission is responsible for managing the selection process and proposing a shortlist of candidates who could be offered the post, while the Management Board makes the final appointment
The Board confirmed plans to hold a seminar for Board members at the end of November. It was agreed that this should focus on how to maximize the value of the EIONET and the use made of it. A detailed proposal will be put to the Board in July.
The Commission representative reported on two questions put to the Commission by Spanish Members of the European Parliament following the publication on the EEAs web site of the Executive Directors opinion on the Spanish national hydrological plan. These questioned whether this publication and such use of the web site were compatible with the function of Executive Director.
In its response to the Parliament the Commission stressed that as the Agency has legal autonomy the Director is accountable for his activities to the EEAs Management Board on the one hand, and on the other hand that it was clearly stated that the opinion expressed was personal.
The Commission representative stated that the Commission saw no breach of any rules but suggested that the Management Board ensure that clear guidelines are drawn up on use of the web site for the future.
The Executive Director pointed out that the opinion, which is no longer posted on the EEA web site, had been prepared at the written request of the Spanish government. He proposed to present rules applying to the use of the web site to the next meeting of the Board, and the Board agreed to this.