Environmental Issues in Central and Eastern Europe:

U.S. Efforts to Help Resolve Institutional and Financial Problems

RCED-94-41: Published: May 31, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 1, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on environmental protection efforts in central and eastern Europe, focusing on: (1) central and eastern European governments' institutional capacities for addressing environmental problems; (2) the extent and use of U.S. environmental assistance to each region; and (3) the problems in developing and implementing a U.S. environmental program in central and eastern Europe.

GAO found that: (1) central and eastern European democratic governments have developed and strengthened their key environmental protection institutions; (2) environmental institutions in these countries are not well supported because public interest in environmental issues has declined in light of economic crises, revisions of environmental statutes and regulations are not complete, compliance monitoring and enforcement capabilities are weak, and there is inadequate financing for environmental protection efforts; (3) U.S. environmental assistance programs in central and east European countries are continually reassessing how best to meet each region's environmental needs; (4) as U.S. environmental assistance efforts have expanded, other central and east European countries have been included in U.S. environmental aid programs and program goals have shifted to strengthening each region's institutional capabilities; (5) the United States is continuing to help build international environmental institutions and help regions obtain financing for capital environmental improvements from international financial institutions; and (6) although early Agency for International Development (AID) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts were often not well coordinated with U.S. staff or target country officials, both agencies have made substantial progress in addressing coordination problems by assigning EPA regional liaison responsibilities, jointly developing country-specific environmental strategies, and improving AID activities and field staff training.

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