Joint press release
The third Eastern Partnership (EaP) formal ministerial meeting on environment and climate change took place today, virtually, co-organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission. The EU and five Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) met to jointly review progress on the goals and priorities set at the second Ministerial meeting in 2018. They confirmed their commitment to stepping up cooperation to tackle the twin crises and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development. The meeting was co-hosted by the Portuguese Minister for Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and by the European Commission, represented by Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius.
Matos Fernandes, Minister for Environment and Climate Action of Portugal said: “Closer relations between the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries are key to tackling today's big environmental challenges and fostering green recovery in Europe because environmental problems and climate change have no borders."
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission said: ''The green transition towards sustainable and low-carbon economies will require the very best we have to give. Science tells us that the costs of non-action are too high to bear, and the better we invest our money into a green economy of the future the better, stronger, and fast we will recover. I ask Eastern Partners to join this transition in order to position ourselves for global competition and ensure the health and well-being for all."
Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement said: "We will shortly put forward an ambitious Economic and Investment Plan to turn our vision for the future of the Eastern Partnership into action. This Plan will help to kick-start the post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery of the region and make it much more resilient: not only through stronger economies and better connectivity, but also by improving its energy, environmental and climate resilience. Partner countries’ commitment is crucial in achieving this goal.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries said: "Climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution know no borders. As close neighbours, the EU and the Eastern Partner countries have every interest to address these common challenges together. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic gives us the opportunity to step up efforts towards the green transition. Our renewed commitment to cooperate is key to ensuring that we can build back better and greener together."
Acknowledging progress on the Eastern Partnership environmental agenda made since 2018, the ministers focused their discussions on the significance of the European Green Deal for the Eastern Partner countries and expressed willingness to work together towards a 2050 climate-neutral continent, the transition to a sustainable and circular economy, halting biodiversity loss and achieving a pollution-free environment. They received broad stakeholder support in addressing key environmental concerns, focussing on the challenges and opportunities associated with a transition to circular and low carbon economies. The Ministers reaffirmed the need to keep environment and climate action high on their political and economic agendas.
Further EU support to Eastern Partner countries to modernise and align public and private investments with the goal of climate neutrality, the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda received special attention in the context of post-COVID-19 recovery efforts. Ministers stressed that recovery should be guided by the “do no significant harm” principle. Ministers called for a post-2020 partnership framework to drive environmental and climate ambitions across all its pillars while also considerate of the countries’ specific challenges to transition to green and inclusive economies, where no one is left behind.