International Cooperation

EPA's Efforts in Europe

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy met with German Secretary of State for Environment Jochen Flasbarth. (February 2014)

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 focus on:


Energy Cooperation

Energy continues to be a primary focus of U.S. bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Europe, at political and technical levels. 
 
For example, EPA provides technical input to bilateral  discussions under the Transatlantic Economic Council on energy efficiency and electric vehicles as well as raw materials (including e-waste), and nanotechnology. EPA also works closely with European (Nordic) partners 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 cooperation with the European Commission and key EU Member States includes shale gas development, energy efficiency, and methane capture and use.
 

Shale Gas Development

Shale gas development - especially the process of hydraulic fracturing – is a topic of  strong interest to EPA's European partners who hope to learn from U.S. experience 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 relevant scientific, policy and regulatory aspects of the issue.
 

ENERGY STAR 

ENERGY 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. 
ENERGY STAR Logo
 
To promote and use the ENERGY STAR label for office equipment throughout Europe, EPA and the European Union signed an official bilateral Agreement Exitin 2001.  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. 
 
In January 2013, then-Administrator Lisa Jackson and then-European Union Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger signed the second renewal of the Agreement which promotes use of a common voluntary label and a consistent set of performance standards for computers, monitors, printers, copiers, multi-function devices and servers in the United States and the European Union. This common approach will increase the global supply of and demand for energy-efficient office equipment.  It also will help manufacturers avoid the burden of complying with multiple labeling programs. The renewed Agreement will last for 5 years and will extend 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)Exit
 

Global Methane Initiative (GMI)

Global Methane Initiative logo
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The Global Methane Initiative Exit 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, landfills, 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 Albania, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.  

Chemicals Management

The United States and Europe collaborate to reduce the risks of harmful toxics.
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) Exit share scientific and technical experience and expertise to enhance  the sound management of chemicals. The dialogue also promotes regulatory best practices and information-sharing on areas of mutual interest. A Statement of Intent to enhance this cooperation was signed in December 2010. (PDF)
 
Regulatory developments in Europe and the U.S. have made transatlantic cooperation on chemicals management more important than ever. The U.S. continues to support 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 Exit has been in force since 2008.
 
Productive discussions between U.S. and European experts also take place in key international fora such as the OECDExit 
 
 

Research, Information, and Technology

Computational Toxicology logo
EPA and the European Commission coordinate research and technical cooperation under an Implementing Arrangement (PDF) (5 pp, 203 K, About PDF) which was signed in February 2007 within the framework of the U.S.-EU Science and Technology Agreement Exit 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.  EPA maintains ongoing technical relationships with experts at the European Commission, with Member States such as France, and within the OECD to facilitate data exchange and sharing of methodologies and approaches.  For example, EPA is working with a French cosmetics firm to investigate new screening methods that are faster, cheaper, and will reduce the use of laboratory animals which, if successful, could be used to evaluate thousands of chemicals found in commonly-used products.
 
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,Exit which includes environmental information, data exchange, environmental indicators, and information access. 
 

Environmental Governance

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

REC environmentally friendly conference centre
The REC's environmentally friendly conference centre, which has a target of zero annual CO2 emissions.
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 Exit 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 SDA courses to share EPA-developed tools and expertise that would be relevant for SDA participants in other countries.
 

International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)

International Network on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
EPA 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) Exit was founded by EPA and the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Environment and Spatial Planning (VROM; now known as the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment Exit) in 1989. The U.S. and the Netherlands continue to serve as co-chairs of the network. 
 
 

INTERPOL

EPA collaborates with European partners through participation in INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working GroupExit 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 within the INTERPOL Working Group, sharing intelligence to stop illegal shipments of e-waste to developing countries. 
 

Cooperation with EU Member States

While cooperation with the EU through the European Commission remains a primary focus 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.
 

Strengthening Environmental Management at the National Level 

For example, EPA works closely with the Environment Agency for England Exit in the United Kingdom (UK) on a wide range of technical topics, including enforcement and compliance, permitting, shale gas development, 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 Exit, 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 PDFis to coordinate air quality research efforts and develop high quality scientific products and modeling tools that will support sound environmental policy decisions in the U.S. and the UK. 
 

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. 
 

Coordinated Development Assistance

Many nations, include the U.S. and our European partners, provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries who are working to improve 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. 
 

Contacts 

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