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The Regulation establishing the EEA and Eionet foresees active international cooperation around core areas of EEA work. The tasks of the EEA include promoting the incorporation of European environmental information into international environmental monitoring programmes, cooperating with regional and international bodies and programmes such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and cooperating with institutions in non-EU countries.

The EEA’s international engagements can be structured into four clusters:

- International cooperation and Eionet
- Regional relationships in the EU neighbourhood
- Relationships with international organisations, UN bodies and global conventions
- Relationships with non-European countries and regions

1. International cooperation and Eionet

While the focus of Eionet is the EEA member countries, the EEA Regulation itself looked forward with a provision for cooperation with ‘… those institutions in countries which are not members of the Community which can provide data, information and expertise …’. This provision has enabled non-EU countries to participate in Eionet activities and then join the EEA as members.

Eionet only strictly encompasses EEA member countries. However, in practice, Eionet activities cover well-established cooperation with the Western Balkan countries (EEA cooperating countries).

2. Regional relationships in the EU neighbourhood

The EEA has a long track record of thematic and crosscutting cooperation, also beyond Eionet countries. In particular, it cooperates with various regional processes and bodies that cover geographical areas with close or transboundary geographic or geo-political links to the EU, and where there are well-defined EU policies.

The focus of EEA core-funded work in a regional European context is to contribute to environmental information and assessment activities under various conventions and other processes. Depending on needs, EEA contributions range from data and information sharing to assessment related inputs, as well as fostering networking and information partnerships.

3.  Relationships with international organisations

The EEA has a long-standing tradition of working with international organisations and UN bodies, in particular those addressing environment and related aspects such as UN Environment at a global level and the UN Economic Commission for Europe at a pan-European level. These relationships cover both thematic areas (e.g. climate change and biodiversity) and crosscutting cooperation. In the thematic context, the EEA provides data and expertise to support the EU and EEA member and cooperating countries in their involvement in international conventions and in newly established UN-Global assessment platforms. In its crosscutting work, the EEA focuses on sharing knowledge and promoting the SEIS principles to support the strengthening of the knowledge-policy interface.

In both thematic and crosscutting activities, the EEA operates as a direct partner of such bodies, providing expertise to ongoing processes, as well as supporting the EU and EEA member and cooperating countries in fulfilling their reporting obligations, providing assessments, and (co-)developing EU positions. Work in support of the EU and EEA member and cooperating countries is carried out around major political processes. One such example is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC), where the EEA plays an active role in supporting the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas emissions.

After the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the framework for follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda needs to be made more concrete at the national, regional and global levels. The EEA will have a particular role to play at the regional level in contributing to the monitoring and review work. This work will be carried out in close co-operation with the European Commission and EU Member States.

There are also ongoing engagements with the Global Earth Observation System of Systems of the Group on Earth Observations and with the UN initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management.

4. Relationships with non-European countries and regions

The EEA shares its expertise, knowledge and approaches with various non-European national and regional bodies. A regular dialogue has been ongoing with the US Environmental Protection Agency for nearly 20 years, while there has been exchange of information with Central Asian countries over the past 15 years. In addition, the EEA has contacts and information exchanges with institutions and bodies in, for example, Australia, Canada, China, India and South Korea, as well as at the regional level with African, Asian, and South American bodies. 

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