Regulation implementation and involvement of regional actors important for the success of the environmental policy

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, received the delegation of European regions led by Magnus Berntsson, AER Vice-President on 20 May 2016.

Among the topics discussed during the meeting were Blue Growth, green energy and green tourism, circular economy and the role of the regional level in their implementation, including regions from the accession countries and their participation in the policy implementation and use of available environment funds.

“It is useless to come up with directives, regulations and strategies if they are not implemented“, said Commissioner Vella, stressing the importance for the European Commission to cooperate with the regions for an efficient implementation of environmental policies.

Commissioner Vella praised the work of AER in the field of circular economy, and more specifically, the ongoing Regional Innovation Award, to be presented in Brussels in December 2016.

Magnus Berntsson announced the keynote discussion on the topic of the Arctic in the framework of the AER General Assembly, to be held in Norway 22-24 June 2016. Commissioner Vella presented the European Commission’s communication on the integrated EU Arctic Policy and a great need to find global solutions and take global actions in that area. The Commissioner added that the Arctic region was a huge potential in terms of economic opportunities, which could only be sustainable if we took our environmental responsibilities. The potential of blue growth and green tourism were highlighted. Joint work on the issue would be continued in the future to achieve the common goals: a better implementation of the environmental policy in Europe and globally.

Mitar Vasiljević presented the main elements addressed by Vojvodina regarding the environmental policy, its participation in the EU integration and negotiating group 27.

Blue growth was at the heart of the discussion with a number of concrete examples given by the members of the AER delegation, such as youth unemployment rate, the economic importance of fishery, protection of biodiversity and its economic potential by Cyrielle Cuirassier.

On top of the need to safeguard the oceans with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, the Commissioner emphasized the potential of ocean energy (including innovative forms, such as wave energy) and the question of global governance to face new challenges. Making a link between maritime affairs and the environment, all the parties in the meeting agreed on a pressing need to take action regarding the use of plastics and its consequences on the oceans and shores. The Commissioner called for a global response since marine litter was a global problem: all possible waste ended up in the oceans shared globally.

In the conclusion, Commissioner Vella and the delegation stressed the role of the regional level in the implementation of EU policies, since the major part of the work was done in the field.