European Union Opening StatementMr Chairman, Your Excellency Minister Moratinos, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. The European Union is very pleased to participate in this year’s Economic and Environmental Forum here in Prague. The Forum provides an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the “key challenges to ensure environmental security and sustainable development in the OSCE area”. As we have said before, the topics chosen by the Spanish Chairmanship match the EU’s own focus on strengthening international cooperation to address threats posed by the degradation of ecosystems.
The two preparatory conferences as well as the first part of the EEF in Vienna have reminded us of the urgent need to address challenges to the environment. They have, at the same time, identified some options for cooperation on the issues of land degradation, soil contamination and water management. As discussed in Bishkek, Vienna and Zaragoza, these problems can have transboundary implications. While they can be particularly acute in zones of conflict, they may also provide opportunities for confidence building via joint action.
Similarly, the Zaragoza preparatory conference demonstrated that water management provides opportunities for cross-border cooperation. The conference examined a series of examples of successful water management cooperation in the OSCE area. Within the EU, economic, social and environmental aspects of water management are regulated through the Water Framework Directive. Most South-East-European countries are already applying the approach of the Water Framework Directive on a voluntary basis. The European Neighbourhood Policy, the Strategic Partnership with the Russian Federation as well as the EU’s Strategy for Central Asia – to be adopted next month – provide good opportunities for the application of the Water Framework Directive to other areas of the OSCE region.