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Environmental Progress in Central and Eastern Europe

Release Date: 06/29/2005
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Contact: Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-4355 /

(6/29/05) Citizens of Central and Eastern Europe enjoy a much cleaner environment today, partly due to work by the EPA-supported Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe. To commemorate REC's 15th anniversary, officials from the 16 member countries met on June 28 in Budapest. REC is a non-partisan, non-advocacy organization, established in 1990 by former President George H. W. Bush. Congress designated EPA to manage the REC to address this region's special environmental challenges. During the communist era, industrial development proceeded without environmental controls, leading to large amounts of unmanaged solid and liquid wastes near many industrial facilities and significant emissions to air and water.

"Central and Eastern European nations have made extraordinary progress in addressing a sometimes tragic legacy of environmental degradation," said Judith Ayres, EPA assistant administrator for International Affairs. "EPA is proud to have contributed to the improvement of environmental quality and human health in this important part of the world."

The REC promotes trans-boundary cooperation among environmental stakeholders. By providing a neutral forum to discuss environmental problems and possible solutions, REC supports the free exchange of information and strong public participation in environmental decision-making. For example, lead contamination is a major environmental concern that can seriously affect children's health. EPA has provided support to a Bulgarian-led regional working group to phase out lead from gasoline.

The REC headquarters is in Hungary, and there are offices in 16 countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey. More information on the REC is available at: To learn more about EPA's international work, see: