BALKAN ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATORY
COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT NETWORK (BERCEN)
TERMS OF REFERENCE
I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE EXISTING ENVIRONMENTAL
ENFORCEMENT NETWORKS IN EUROPE
European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental
The environmental legislation of the European Commission (EC) has grown considerably in
recent years, which has created concerns within the European Union (EU) Member States
about the comparability of standards of enforcement in different countries. These concerns
were confirmed by an investigation, conducted by Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and
Environment of the Netherlands, which found inconsistencies in a number of areas such as
methods of permitting, application of technical standards, and public access to information.
The results of this investigation were presented at an informal meeting of the Environmental
Ministers in October 1991. They subsequently agreed that:
“...it would be desirable as a first step to establish a Network of representatives of relevant
national authorities and of the Commission in the field of enforcement, primarily aimed at
the exchange of information and experience in the field of compliance and enforcement, and
at the development of common approaches at a practical level.”
The EC and Member States agreed to modify the Terms of Reference of the Network with a
wider mandate for the application and control of environmental legislation. In addition, it
was agreed that the Network should look at how to ensure better implementation and
enforcement by regional and local bodies. It was decided that the EC and the Presidency
would jointly chair future Plenary Meetings. The modified Network is known as the EU
Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL). Its main
objective is that of creating the necessary impetus in the Community to make progress to
ensure a more effective implementation of environmental legislation.
Composed of appropriate representatives of the Member States and jointly chaired by the EC
and the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council, IMPEL has a rather wide
mandate to consider the implementation of environmental legislation, including mainly
questions of how to ensure better enforcement by national, regional and local bodies. The
Discussion Paper on the Future of AC IMPEL, presented in the Plenary meeting on May 5, 1998
present focus on enforcement has been recently broadened to include legal policy and
The Accession Countries IMPEL Network
The approximation of laws is the primary obligation for membership in the EU, meaning that
countries aspiring to join it must align their national laws, rules and procedures in order to
give effect to the entire body of EC law contained in the acquis communautaire.
In the context of the “approximation process” it is clear that the accession countries should
benefit from EU experience in the subsequent phases of implementation and enforcement of
EC environmental legislation. IMPEL could contribute by providing the most appropriate
and effective route for identifying and using the Member States’ experiences and resources
in implementation and enforcement to assist the accession countries in their efforts to meet
the environmental requirements of EU membership.
The EC, after some preliminary discussions with IMPEL, which highlighted the need for
such a parallel network for the accession countries for accession, took the initiative in
proposing to these countries the creation of an informal parallel network. This network was
closely linked to IMPEL and used its experience and resources to address not only
implementation and enforcement issues, but also the interpretation and transposition
requirements of the environmental Directives.
The associated countries designated National Co-ordinator for what is called the “Accession
Countries’ IMPEL network” (AC-IMPEL).
Its main role was to support the accession countries to meet their obligations for accession:
this help is provided in the field of the environment and more specifically, focused on
approximation of environmental legislation in terms of transposition, implementation and
enforcement. It covered other related inspection issues. It assisted the accession countries in
the process of the harmonisation of their environmental legislation to that of the EU,
focusing mainly on Directives and Regulations and developing best implementation and
IMPEL and AC-IMPEL networks were merged as of January 1, 2003, with interim period
until January 1, 2005.
II. THE NEED FOR A PARALLEL NETWORK FOR THE SOUTH EASTERN
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES THAT ARE PART OF THE STABILISATION AND
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro are
now part of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) that constitutes EU’s key
policy to draw the countries of the region closer to the prospect of European integration. A
cornerstone of this new approach will be a new kind of contractual agreement, tailor made
for each country and known as a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). This
offers the countries the prospect of integration into the EU's structures whilst setting political
and economic conditions to be met. Environment is included as a key area for co-operation.
Environmental enforcement has not received sufficient attention in the SAP countries in the
period of their transition to market economies. The instability in the region of South Eastern
Europe (SEE) has retarded the development of strong environmental enforcement and
compliance. The weak institutional and legal framework coupled with the limited financial
and human resources of the environmental enforcement agencies in the SAP countries is a
major cause of ineffectiveness of environmental compliance and enforcement.
Measures should be taken to put in place the necessary enforcement mechanisms to enable
SEE institutions to improve compliance and enforcement of environmental legislation as
well as international environmental conventions.
After high-level consultations with the SAP countries, the EC and the Regional
Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (the REC for CEE) highlighted the
need for establishing a parallel enforcement and compliance network for the Balkan Region.
The REC for CEE developed a proposal for establishing the Balkan Environmental
Compliance and Enforcement Network (BERCEN) and the SAP countries responded
positively to the proposal at the Task Force meetings of Regional Environmental
Reconstruction Programme for South Eastern Europe (REReP).
The set-up meeting of the BERCEN took place on December 3-4, 2001 in Tirana, Albania.
The network decided to pursue its work in the frame of the SAP and decide its future role,
scope, structure and activities.
The meeting also decided that BERCEN would use the AC-IMPEL as a role model.
The European Commission provided assistance for the initial phase via its assistance
programmes Obnova and Phare as well as the Netherlands via the Ministry of Foreign
III. THE ROLE AND SCOPE OF BERCEN
• Members of BERCEN are the following countries represented by the National Network
Coordinators: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Serbia and
Observers of BERCEN are the following countries represented by the National Network
Coordinators: Bulgaria and Romania.
• The network is informal: it follows the successful experience of AC-IMPEL and IMPEL.
• BERCEN's role is to support its members to meet their undertakings in the SAP in the
field of environment. It will focus on improving the compliance and enforcement of
• The network uses the experience of the Candidate Countries to the EU, particularly
Bulgaria and Romania whose status as SEE countries is especially relevant.
• The network works in close co-operation with IMPEL with a long-term goal to draw
closer to this sister network. The network will establish relations with other compliance
networks such as NISECEN and INECE as appropriate.
• The network will enhance environmental regional co-operation in SEE.
IV. BERCEN STRUCTURE
a. National Network Coordinators
The National Network Coordinators are senior officials involved in implementation,
compliance and enforcement of environmental legislation issues in the countries as well as
senior decision makers involved in the issues of compliance and enforcement of international
environmental conventions, who represent the countries in the network. The National
Network Coordinators must have been mandated to take decisions in relation to the
objectives and activities of the network.
Each country may designate Deputy Network Coordinator.
The role of the National Network Coordinator is to ensure adequate feedback from and to
his/her home country on the activities of BERCEN. The National Network Coordinator must
establish a local network in the home country through the dissemination of information.
The National Network Coordinators should participate personally or through designated
persons in the BERCEN specific activities according to the BERCEN work plan and/or as
requested by the BERCEN Secretariat.
b. Plenary Meetings
The plenary meeting is the forum for strategic discussions and decision-making subject to
the objectives and activities of BERCEN and endorses the work plan.
All National Network Coordinators and Deputy Network Coordinators should participate in
the plenary meetings. The BERCEN Secretariat invites also the representatives of IMPEL,
NISECEN and INECE to participate in the plenary meetings as observers of the meeting.
The agenda of a plenary meeting is developed by the BERCEN Secretariat in close
cooperation with the National Network Coordinators and Deputy Network Coordinators.
The plenary meetings are co-chaired by the representatives of the EC and the BERCEN
member country, where the plenary meeting is held. Both co-chairs are prepared for the
meeting by the BERCEN Secretariat. In case the plenary meeeting decides that the next
meeting will take place in Hungary, it is also agreed who will co-chair the meeting.
The plenary meetings take place at least once a year, but preferably twice a year depending
on the available budget. The location of the next plenary meeting is decided in the previous
The BERCEN Secretariat covers all costs related to the National Network Coordinators and
Deputy Network Coordinators’ participation in the plenary meetings. Should a country wish
to participate with further representatives it must bare the additional costs.
A preparatory meeting could be organized before a plenary meeting if so agreed by the
National Network Coordinators and Deputy Network Coordinators, and if money is
The BERCEN Secretariat sends out all invitations to the plenary meetings and takes care of
the logistics of the meeting. The latter is done in close coopeartion with the country, where
the meeting takes place.
The plenary meetings are held in English.
The Secretariat shall maintain contact with the National Network Coordinators and other
members of the network.
The Secretariat shall support the Chairmen of the plenary meeting in the function of their
duties and prepares the draft agenda for the plenary meeting. It is responsible for all
organizational and logistical issues related to the plenary meeting.
The Secretariat shall actively disseminate information from and to other similar compliance
and enforcement networks such as IMPEL, INECE, and NISECEN etc.
The Secretariat shall also disseminate information from and to the European Commission,
international organizations and donors etc.
The Secretariat shall review the progress of the BERCEN activities for each plenary
meeting, while the members of the BERCEN review their national key achivements in
environmental regulatory compliance and enforcement.
The Secretariat shall be managed by the REC for CEE, and works in close cooperation with
the EC and IMPEL.
• Plenary meetings.
• Training programmes for environmental inspectors and regulators with the main
focus on minimum criteria for environmental inspections and integrated pollution
prevention and control. Other topics may be covered if so agreed by the National
Network Coordinators and Deputy Network Coordinators.
• Exchange programmes for environmental inspectors and regulators with the strong
participation by experts from IMPEL member countries in order to share lessons learned
in the region and beyond.
• Study tours for environmental inspectors and regulators organized in IMPEL
• Peer review assessments of the BERCEN member countries in order to screen the
national enforcement system and evaluate the status of environmental law
implementation and enforcement, according to the methodology and approach for peer
reviews of IMPEL members.
• 1st reports compiled on the IPPC Directive (96/61/EC) implementation in the
BERCEN member countries using the Questionnaire on the Implementation of the IPPC
Directive adopted with European Commission Decision 1999/391/EC. The reports will
be presented to DG Environment and EC Local Delegations.
• 1st reports compiled on the implementation of the Recommendation of the
European Parliament and of the Council of 4 April 2001 Providing for Minimum
Criteria for Environmental Inspections (2001/331/EC) in the BERCEN member
countries. The reports will be presented to DG Environment and EC Local Delegations.
• Publications: Should there be any particular output of a BERCEN activity, the plenary
meeting could decide to publish the corresponding report, provided that there is money
• Special projects: the National Network Coordinators may agree to prepare special
project proposals that may be presented to the donor community through the existing
channels for technical assistance. The National Network Coordinators may designate a
lead country for a particular project. The lead country will ensure political support,
exchange of information as well as country ownership of the results.
• Participation of BERCEN representatives in other networks’ activities if appropriate
and when funding allows.
• Translation of materials: Documents in local languages could be translated into English
or vice versa, if so agreed by the National Network Coordinators and Deputy Network
Coordinators and if money is available.
• In the period of September 2003 – September 2006, the EC assistance programme
CARDS provides EUR 675 000 for the BERCEN activities.
• The specific project proposals that might be proposed by the National Network
Coordinators will be proposed for funding to the donors within the existing and future
VII. NETWORK LOGO
The National Network Coordinators decide on the logo of the BERCEN. The logo is placed
on the BERCEN documents.