The 9th Session of the IHO-EU Network Working Group (IENWG) was held in Brussels (Belgium) last week from 27 to 28 February. The Working Group was established by the International Hydrographic Organization under the Memorandum of Cooperation between the IHO and the European Union signed in 2012. The Working Group deals with issues of co-operation between the IHO and the EU in the field of hydrography. Primarily, it deals with issues of cooperation models with the aim of collecting hydrographical data and ensuring their availability for wider use at EU level. Croatian representatives, Vinka Kolić, CHI Director and Željko Bradarić, Assistant Director for International Cooperation, were invited to attend the meeting to present HHI's many years of experience in the successful implementation of several projects funded from European funds.
In the discussion that followed after presentations, additional explanations to queries regarding methodology and difficulties in applying and at all stages of realization of project goals or activities were provided. In this regard, the possibilities and methods of applying projects in the field of hydrography funded from EU programs and funds were pointed out. Furthermore, the representatives presented a way for other hydrographic offices to solve the disputed issues arising from the provisions of the contract which are in conflict with the national regulation, by giving a concrete example of EMODNet project, as in Croatian case. The procedure and the way CHI solved this issue has ensured the realization of the objectives of the EMODnet project.
Representatives of CHI took the opportunity to present the basic guidelines of the HHI policy regarding the availability of the data they collect and data processing, as these jobs are performed on the basis of public bodies. It is particularly emphasized that the data policy is fully aligned with the requirements of EU and national regulations, in the sense that it is clearly defined for which purposes (commercial / non-commercial, navigational / non-navigational, cartographic / non-cartographic), under what conditions (free of charge, fee, limitations etc.) and in what way (by concluding a license agreement) CHI can make the data they have available for re-use and widespread use.
In addition to the aforementioned, in a series of bilateral meetings with members of the Working Group, attitudes and opinions on meeting topics as well as other issues from the everyday work of hydrographic offices were exchanged.
One of the valuable findings (in fact the confirmation of known facts) for CHI representatives was the fact that the application and approval of resources from EU funds for the basic activities of the hydrographic service was still difficult. This is because it is considered that the responsibility, and therefore funding the basic activities of the hydrographic service (collecting, processing, publishing and updating data in official edition of charts and publications) is an obligation of the EU member state itself, namely from the State budget. Therefore, stability and continuity of funding is necessary, not periodically from occasionally approved projects, and all to ensure the continuity of hydrographic activities since the hydrographic service is a permanent 24/7/365 day activity.