Vienna, 24 April 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Twinning partners seek Austrian know-how"

State Secretary Lopatka opens European Twinning Coordinator Meeting

Vienna, 24 April 2013 – "Since the launch of the EU Twinning programme, Austria has contributed to 332 twinning projects in the environmental, financial, agricultural, judiciary and interior politics sectors with great success. Austrian expertise and know-how are in great demand and much valued by our partners", State Secretary Lopatka said at the meeting of Twinning Coordinators in Vienna. "The Austrian twinning involvement is focused on Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia as well as Turkey. The twinning projects are organised on a partnership basis: we help candidate and other partner countries of the EU to adjust to EU structures, standards and requirements", the State Secretary said.

The European Union has been promoting twinning initiatives between EU member states, candidate and potential candidate countries since 1998. These activities have now been extended to the states of the eastern and southern neighbourhood countries. Experts from EU member states assist by organising concrete projects on site. In the countries of the Western Balkans the focus is mainly on "pre-accession aid" in the adoption of EU law and efficient administrative structures.

The Federal Environmental Agency, which now participates in nearly 100 projects, is one of the most successful Austrian institutions involved in the twinning programme. "In Serbia, for example, a project for the harmonisation of Serbian legal provisions with EU nature protection directives was successfully concluded after two years of consulting in June 2012. Three additional projects on environmental inspections, hazardous waste and chemicals are still being implemented", Lopatka said. "Last week the 100th twinning project between Austria and Serbia was approved." The projects are geared to the monitoring of emission-relevant effects that industrial plant and operations have on the environment, and the adjustment of Serbian law to EU nature protection legislation. Experts from the Austrian Environmental Agency also supported the Kosovar authorities in the management and control of water resources, air quality monitoring and sustainable forestry and woodland use.

"The twinning initiatives are not only intended to facilitate future accession processes and bilateral cooperation between institutions, Austrian businesses also profit from twinning projects. Companies can later fall back on existing cooperation partnerships and rely on modern administrative structures", State Secretary Lopatka concluded.

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