It has been a very interesting week in Brussels! Named "Building Natura 2000 in candidate countries and potential candidates: the role of civil society", People 2 People programme gathered about 45 NGO representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Island, as the only country not being part of Western Balkans.
Very interesting presentations were given by Natura 2000 experts such as Alberto Arroyo Schnell from WWF, Borut Rubinič from BirdLife, or Pawel Pawlaczyk from Naturalists Club Poland. Director of WWF European Policy Office Tony Long spoke about lobbying European institutions. The man was fabulous! His two-decades long experience was worth hearing... Andreas Baumueller talked about the role of NGOs in promoting mainstreaming of biodiversity while Paloma Agrasot gave examples on advocacy in European institutions. Doug Evans helped us understand the role of the ETC (European Topic Centre) on biological diversity in implementing the EU nature directives, and, of course, people from the Commission talked about the Civil Society Facility, People 2 People programme, EU institutions, enlargement policy, environment chapter no 27, RENA and Natura 2000 and EU policy in the field of biodiversity protection. Not to talk only from the point of view of NGO, Slovenian case was represented by the people from the Ministry - Peter Skoberne and Andrej Bibič.
Many lectures, a visit to European Parliament, discussion with DG Environment representatives for each country... Well, it was hard, but, some rare free moments we succeeded enjoying relaxed with a beer in our hands... :-)
Thank you Sophie Aujean and Andrea Stefan for organizing this and allowing a group of people from the IPA project "Partnership Action for Biodiversity Protection in Western Balkans" to be a part of it!