Brussels, 18 March 2021
EaP CSF COVID-19 Policy Paper on Waste and Water Management
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries have faced difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic in following the best practices of waste processing and reduction. This policy paper highlighted significant differences in waste and water management between Association Agreement signatories (Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine), which managed to approximate their legislation to the European standards, and the other three EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus).
The EaP region was unable to completely eradicate waste and wastewater before the pandemic, facing greater challenges during the epidemiological crisis. This policy paper evaluates the waste and water policies implemented in each EaP country and identifies the advantages and gaps of their national approaches, by examining the opportunities posed by the pandemic for policy improvement.
To minimise the consequences of the inadequate measures taken during the pandemic in the waste and water management sectors, the policy paper recommends EaP governments to implement further reforms of both sectors and to intensify the cooperation with the EU. Moreover, the paper advises EaP governments to introduce and prioritise waste hierarchy, waste separation, sorting and recycling, especially beyond urban areas. Furthermore, the governments should improve the water supplies in the rural areas, by also upgrading wastewater treatment facilities.
With the ambitious Green Deal plan, the EU has achieved significant progress with respect to maximising the quality of the treated wastewater, however, the magnitude is not similar in the EaP countries. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, all the EaP nations were identified to have similar challenges such as low integration of the separate waste collection, sorting and recycling practices into the general waste treatment system. Moreover, the countries face pressing issues such as obsolete wastewater treatment facilities, likewise, insufficient coverage of rural areas with water and sanitation infrastructure. Although none of the EaP countries managed to completely reach Deliverable 16, the assistance and expertise of the EU through ‘EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the EaP’ and other multilateral programmes were of specific significance.