EPA Collaboration with Europe
The United States and Europe enjoy long-standing economic and political relationships, address environmental impacts of joint concern, and face similar opportunities and challenges. By working together to achieve common goals, the U.S. and Europe can enhance our respective environmental protection efforts while creating a cleaner environment on both continents and around the world. In close cooperation with European partners, EPA aims to build capacity to solve environmental problems in a practical manner, and strengthen transatlantic institutions, networks, and relationships.
Key activities with Europe currently focus on:
- Energy Cooperation
- Chemicals Management
- Research, Information, and Technology
- Environmental Governance
- Cooperation with EU Member States
Each of these priorities is detailed below.
Energy continues to be a primary focus of U.S. cooperation with Europe, at the political level and the technical level in both bilateral and multilateral fora.
As part of the U.S.-EU Summit Process, EPA participates in discussions under the Transatlantic Economic Council on energy efficiency, electric vehicles, raw materials (including e-waste), and nanotechnology. EPA also works closely with European (Nordic) parnters within the framework of the Arctic Council to reduce impacts on the Arctic region from short-lived climate forcing pollutants and other contaminants.
EPA's energy-related technical cooperation with the European Commission and key EU Member States focuses on shale gas development, energy efficiency, methane capture and use, biofuels, and other fuel and vehicle issues.
Shale Gas Development
Shale gas development - and especially the process of hydraulic fracturing - has become a topic of intense interest to EPA's European partners who are anxious to learn from U.S. experiences as they consider how to approach the development of this resource in their own countries. EPA cooperates with the Department of State's Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program and with bilateral partners such as the European Commission, Poland and the United Kingdom to share information and experience on relelvant scientific, policy and regulatory aspects of the issue.
ENERGY STARENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, which helps citizens save money and protect the environment through the use of energy efficient products and practices.
To promote and use the ENERGY STAR label for office equipment throughout Europe, EPA and the European Union have an official bilateral Agreement. This Agreement promotes concrete action on energy efficiency issues, clarifies technical standards for equipment carrying the ENERGY STAR logo, and encourages and facilitates harmonization of test procedures.
One important outcome of the Agreement is that the EU has mandated that the European Commission and the governments of all 27 Member States must procure ENERGY STAR office equipment for official use.
The EPA-EU ENERGY STAR Agreement began implementation in 2001. Since then, it was renewed in December 2006 and revised in July 2009 to include more stringent technical standards. The most recent renewal of the Agreement further strengthens technical standards and extends implementation through 2017.
ENERGY STAR also is implemented in non-EU countries including Switzerland, and in Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) .
Global Methane Initiative (GMI)
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Building on the success of the Methane to Markets Partnership that was created in 2004, the Global Methane Initiative is a public-private partnership to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while expanding opportunities to provide clean energy to markets around the world. GMI focus areas include agriculture, coal, landfilles, oil and gas, and wastewater.
The United States is a founding Partner of GMI, and EPA serves as the primary U.S. and administrative focal point for the global effort. The European Commission became a GMI Partner in 2007, and is providing additional expertise and resources to advance methane capture and use in Europe and in the developing world. Other European GMI Partners include Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Poland also served as host for the GMI All Partnership Meetings in October 2011.
With increasing global attention to the potential benefits and challenges from biofuel production and use comes expanded opportunities for international collaboration. To enhance the effectiveness of U.S. and European regulatory efforts concerning biofuels, EPA technical experts share information, data, and methodologies with our European counterparts.
In addition, EPA participates as part of U.S. support for the Global Bioenergy Partnership , an international effort which coordinates and implements targeted international research, development, demonstration and commercial activities related to the production, delivery, conversion and use of biomass for energy. GBEP activities focus on the needs of developing countries, and are supported by active participation of countries such as the United States, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Japan, and Brazil, among other partners.
Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV)The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) promotes cleaner fuels and vehicles in developing and transition countries, focusing on promoting phase-out of leaded gasoline, use of low-sulfur diesel fuel, and promoting cleaner vehicle technologies. A global partnership run by the United Nations Environment Program, PCFV includes a wide range of partner governments, international organizations, industries, and non-governmental organizations. The PCFV provides a valuable opportunity for the U.S. to engage with European partners and leverage resources on issues of common concern.
EPA was one of the founding partners of PCFV, and EPA continues to provide support and technical guidance, along with European partners such as the European Commission and the Netherlands. Within Europe, the focus is in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe, where some countries still face challenges on these issues.
The Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe serves as the regional focal point for PCFV in the European region. Explore PCFV work in Central and Eastern Europe.
An ongoing regulatory cooperation dialogue aims to help reduce risks from toxics in the U.S. and Europe. EPA and its counterparts in the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) share experience and expertise in the sound management of chemicals. The dialogue also promotes regulatory best practices and information-sharing on areas of mutual interest, including scientific, technical and related challenges. A Statement of Intent to enhance this cooperation was signed in December 2010. (PDF)
Recent developments in Europe and the U.S. have made transatlantic cooperation on chemicals management more relevant than ever. The U.S. has announced principles for reform of the U.S. Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) and enhancements to chemicals management in the U.S., while the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program is now transitioning into its registration phase.
Productive discussions between U.S. and European experts also take place in key international fora such as the OECD , the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persisent Organic Pollutants .
EPA and the E.C. coordinate research and technical cooperation under an Implementing Arrangement (PDF) (5 pp, 203K, About PDF Files) signed in February 2007, within the framework of the U.S.-EU Science and Technology Agreement managed by the U.S. Department of State.
Cooperation includes complementary research on computational toxicology, which ranks chemicals more efficiently based on risks to humans and the environment, and provides an alternative to animal testing.
The EPA-EC Implementing Arrangement also includes long-standing collaboration between EPA,the European Environment Agency, and the European Commission on a category of research known as Ecoinformatics , which includes environmental information, data exchange, environmental indicators, and information access.
EPA and European counterparts are creating and promoting joint efforts to advance emerging nanotechnology research. Two research funding opportunities included Increasing Scientific Data on the Fate, Transport and Behavior of Engineered Nanomaterials in Selected Environmental and Biological Matrices (2010), and a Joint US – UK Research Program on Environmental Behavior, Bioavailability and Effects of Manufactured Nanomaterials (2009).
With the European Commission and Canada, EPA also is a founding member of the International Working Group on Environmental Technology Verification (IWG-ETV). Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) programs verify the performance of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve protection of human health and the environment. ETV accelerates the entrance of new environmental technologies into domestic and international marketplaces. The IWG-ETV aims to develop a common approach to verification of the effectiveness of environmental technologies, so that, in time, participating countries are able to mutually recognize each others’ programs and products.
The United States continues to build and enhance multilateral partnerships to improve environmental governance in Europe and worldwide. Through exchange of information and experts, technical meetings, and implementation of selected projects and partnerships, EPA works with European partners to:
- strengthen institutional capacity for environmental protection and management;
- promote and support engagement of civil society and public participation; and
- improve decision-making through increased access to information for policy-makers and civil society.
The Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe is a great success story of building capacity for sound environmental governance in Europe. Created as the result of a U.S. Presidential Initiative in 1990 (with EPA as the designated lead agency), the REC now has country offices in each of the capitals of the Central and Eastern European region, and is a key forum in which countries can come together to address important international environmental issues.
The REC Sustainable Development Academy focuses on building the capacity of national and local government officials, business representatives, and students to advance sustainability efforts. SDA programs raise awareness of environmental and sustainability issues; provide tools to initiate and implement sustainable development policies; and create networks to foster the exchange of experience and information. EPA has participated in the SDA and is considering ways to share tools and expertise that would be relevant for future SDA courses.
Today, EPA continues to work with the REC, and other long-time bilateral partners, to address environmental challenges faced by new EU Member States as well as those countries aspiring to EU membership. The REC celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2010 and launched a new strategy to chart a productive course for the future.
International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
EPA also works to build enforcement and compliance capacity in Europe by working in cooperation with various regional and international networks of environmental professionals on enforcement and compliance issues. One such network, the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) was founded by EPA and the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Environment and Spatial Planning (VROM; now known as the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment) in 1989. The U.S. and the Netherlands continue to serve as co-chairs of the network.
INECE is a partnership of government and non-government enforcement and compliance practitioners from more than 150 countries. The network is dedicated to using regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to guide compliance with, and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations that promote:
- the sustainable use of natural resources, and
- the protection of ecosystem integrity at the global, regional, and national levels.
Within INECE, EPA also works with European regional networks such as the EU Network for Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network for Accession (ECENA) which focuses on the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. These networks provide opportunities for EPA enforcement experts to share expertise and experiences with European counterparts through periodic meetings and training sessions.
EPA also collaborates with European partners through participation in INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group . This working group facilitates global criminal enforcement efforts and enhances national capabilities to address environmental crime. The U.S. (EPA and Coast Guard) share leadership of this Working Group with Belgium and the Netherlands. In particular, EPA is working closely with the Environment Agency for England and Wales within the INTERPOL Working Group, sharing intelligence to stop illegal shipments of e-waste to developing countries.
INTERPOL has published a report on the links between organized crime and electronic waste disposal, entitled Electronic Waste and Organized Crime: Assessing the Links, available for download in the "Manuals and Reports" section of INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Resources Site.
While cooperation with the EU through the European Commission constitutes a large part of EPA’s cooperation with Europe, EPA also works directly with individual European countries to share information, leverage resources, and provide complementary expertise as national-level environmental managers and regulators.
Enhanced Environmental Management at the National Level
EPA works closely with the Environment Agency for England and Wales in the United Kingdom (UK) on a wide range of technical topics, including enforcement and compliance, permitting, shale gas devleopment, air quality monitoring, and e-waste. EPA and UK experts share ideas and strategies and learn from one another through this exchange.
EPA’s long experience with issuing civil and administrative enforcement penalties provided input to UK legislation , which is designed to enhance domestic regulatory capabilities through the adoption of non-criminal approaches.
EPA also cooperates with the Environment Agency and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to evaluate and predict impacts on human health and ecosystems from air pollution, including ground-level ozone, fine particles, acid deposition, global climate change, eutrophication, mercury and other toxic air contaminants. The goal of the collaboration (PDF) (3 pp, 1.37 M, About PDF Files) is to coordinate air quality research efforts and develop high quality scientific products and modeling tools that will support sound enviornmental policy decisions in the U.S. and the UK.
EPA also has explored opportunities for enhancing permitting approaches in the U.S. through a dialogue with UK partners focused on their long experience with integrated (multi-media) permitting.
Coordinated Development Assistance
Many nations, include the U.S. and our European partners, provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries who are improving their environments. Working in partnership with other nations, EPA strives to maximize the impact of environmental assistance programs, and to ensure that financial resources provided for environmental work in the developing world are utilized in complementary ways.
For example, EPA is collaborating with counterparts in Europe to mobilize resources in tandem to strengthen management of electronic waste in Africa. Other opportunities to leverage resources and achieve common goals are explored with European partners on an ongoing basis.
Bilateral Joint Statements
EPA has signed non-binding “joint statements” with some European partners to provide a general framework for technical cooperation, although such statements are limited in number and are not required for such cooperation to take place.
Italy: Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation
Spain: Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation
Back to: Europe
For additional information about EPA's work with Europe and the European Union, contact:
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460