The European Environment Agency (EEA)
The European Environment Agency (also known as the EEA and not to be confused with the European Economic Area) was officially formed on October 30th, 1993 and has its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. An agency of the EU, the EEA provides independent information on the environment to aid in the development, adoption, implementation and evaluation of all environmental policies as mandated by the EU, as well as taking the role of informing the general public of said policies, and any changes in them that may occur.
Why the EEA was originally formed
The decision to establish the EEA body was originally adopted by the EU in 1990 and as such Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 came into force in that year. Once it had been decided to headquarter the EEA in Copenhagen, offices were put into place and the body officially formed in 1993.
The decision to form the EEA was based on a need to help the EU community and member countries within it to make informed decisions about environmental policy and practices, with the aim of improving the environment, educating and moving countries towards sustainable environmental practices, and integrating environmental considerations into all economic policies, both current at the time and in the future.
The EEA also coordinates the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET). EIONET aims to give timely information and quality-assured data across its network to enable policy makers across the EU to assess current environmental affairs and set contingencies for appropriate measures to protect the environment, both at national and European level, then monitoring said measures for effectiveness once implemented.
The People behind the EEA
At present, Professor Hans Bruyninckx is the current Executive Director of the agency. He took office on June 1st, 2013, and is halfway through a 5 year term.
In this role, he sits as part of the Senior Management Team. This team of 9 is responsible for managing the day-to-day-activities of the EEA and currently consists of:
- Professor Hans Bruyninckx – Executive Director (ED)
- Chris Steenmans - Head of ICT and Data Management (IDM)
- David Stanners - Head of Partnerships and Networks (PAN)
- Jeff Huntington - Senior Adviser, placed in the Executive Director's Office (EDO)
- Jock Martin - Head of Integrated Environmental Assessments (IEA)
- Katja Rosenbohm - Head of Communications (COM)
- Paul McAleavey - Head of Air and Climate Change (ACC)
- Ronan Uhel - Head of Natural System and Sustainability (NSS)
- Søren Brostrup Nielsen - Head of Administrative Services (ADS)
The Management Board of the EEA and the Bureau sit above the ED and the Senior Management Team, and are responsible for the following:
The Management Board adopts the multi-annual work programme, the annual work programmes and the annual reports, and consists of a number of representatives; these are:
- One from each member country
- Two from the Commission
- Two scientific experts as designated by the European Parliament
The Management Board also appoints the ED and designates the members of the Scientific Committee.
The Bureau is entitled to make executive decisions as it deems necessary for the effective operation of the EEA, in between meetings of the Management Board. It consists of:
- The Chairperson,
- Up to five vice-chairpersons,
- One Commission representative
- One of the members designated by the European Parliament
The Scientific Committee is responsible for 3 major tasks:
- To deliver an opinion on the EEA multiannual and annual work-programmes;
- To give an opinion to the Executive Director for the purposes of recruitment of the Agency's scientific staff;
- To provide advice and/or opinion on any scientific matter concerning the Agency's activity, which the management board or the Executive Director may submit to it.
In undertaking these, it assists the Management Board and the ED by providing scientific advice and professional option on all scientific matters relating to work undertaken by the EEA.
The SC consists of:
Up to 20 independent scientists from member countries, chosen through an open selection process and appointed for a 4-year term, which can be renewed once. These experts cover a variety of environmental fields relevant for the Agency's areas of activity. The chairperson and vice-chairperson of the committee are elected from amongst its members.
Why is the EEA so important?
It is extremely important that environmental considerations are taken into account when determining economic policies as governed by the EU. The main clients of the EEA are the European Commission, European Parliament, European Council and the member countries of the EU, as well as the EU institutions of the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee. All of these are key organisations in determining EU policies and therefore need to be kept fully up to date with current environmental concerns and issues, so changes can be made accordingly.
The EEA covers a wide range of environmental issues including:
- Air pollution
- Climate change
- Environment and health
- Land use
- Resource efficiency and waste
Within these areas, and upon information gathered and reported from the EEA and EIONET, current policies can be reviewed in a timely manner to ensure continuous environmental concern is undertaken to protect the environment and specific areas within this umbrella, such as water, soil, land use and climate change.
Once policy changes have been implemented, these then can be regulated per member country to ensure those working within these areas are fully trained to undertake responsible and legal working practices. this may mean workers and managers have to undergo additional training to remain compliant, such as SEATS Training or courses related to Environmental Management.
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