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International Programs

Regional Environmental Center (REC)
for Central and Eastern Europe

EU Ministers

The Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe Exit EPA disclaimer provides assistance in solving environmental problems in Central and Eastern Europe by promoting cooperation among governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and other environmental stakeholders; and by supporting the free exchange of information and public participation in environmental decision-making. Established in 1990, the REC is a non-partisan, non-advocacy, not-for-profit international organization.

The REC was created after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the result of a 1989 U.S. Presidential Initiative to assist the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe in addressing significant environmental challenges, while enhancing regional cooperation. As part of this effort, EPA managed a robust program of environmental technical assistance in the region throughout the 1990s with financial support from USAID.

EU Ministers

EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, Shalini Vajjhala, speaks at REC 20th Anniversary event.

  • The REC is legally based on a Charter that has been signed by the governments of 31 countries and the European Commission. The Charter officially confirms the institutional support of all Signatories for the REC’s mission and programs.
  • U.S. support for the REC was provided through the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act of 1989, which designated EPA as the U.S. Government lead in establishing the REC. More than twenty years later, EPA – through its Office of International and Tribal Affairs – remains the REC’s primary U.S. partner.
  • To date, the U.S. has provided more than $12 million in direct funding for the REC as well as significant in-kind technical support.
  • In addition to the U.S., the other official REC Founders are Hungary and the European Commission.

The REC maintains its headquarters in Szentendre, Hungary (outside of Budapest), and also has country offices and field offices in 17 beneficiary countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.

REC programs focus on four major topic areas:

  • Strengthening institutions for sustainable development;
  • Capacity-building and partnership support;
  • Sustainable management and use of natural resources; and
  • Integration of environmental concerns such as climate change and environmental health into relevant policy sectors such as energy and transportation.

Ministers and other dignitaries from Central and Eastern Europe and around the world gathered in Hungary on June 18th, 2010 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the REC in 1990. At the 20th Anniversary event, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, Shalini Vajjhala, and U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakapoulos Kounalakis represented the United States. Among the celebration highlights:

  • The United Kingdom and Sweden became the newest Signatories to the REC Charter, confirming the REC’s continued importance and relevance as it enters its third decade of work.
  • An official reception was hosted by the Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament H.E. Pal Schmitt at the historic Parliament building in Budapest.
  • Read more about the REC’s 20th Anniversary Exit EPA disclaimer

Learn More about EPA's Governance Programs in Europe, including the REC.

Back to: Europe

For additional information about EPA's work with Europe and the European Union, contact:
Anna Phillips
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
Email: (phillips.anna@epa.gov)

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