About

Memorandum of Understanding

for the European Avalanche Warning Services (EAWS)

Preamble

The cooperation between national, provincial or regional agencies in charge of avalanche warning (Avalanche Warning Services – AWSs) is important to improve public avalanche safety. AWSs have been forming the European Avalanche Warning Services (EAWS) since 1983 in order to:
  • exchange ideas, experiences and operational procedures for avalanche forecasting programs;
  • develop standards, shared rules and regulations for such activities (e.g. the European Avalanche Danger Scale, the auxiliary “Bavarian Matrix”);
  • develop criteria, structure, and graphical output guidance of the forecasting products, delivered to different types of users;
  • improve the efficiency of operation and foster the skills of forecasting staff.
EAWS commits to liaising with reliability and honesty and to establishing a knowledge-based consortium. The Members of EAWS strive for providing the best service at the lowest cost. This Memorandum of Understanding was established to further strengthen the cooperation among the European AWSs.

1. Scope and objectives

This Memorandum of Understanding (hereafter referred to as MoU) describes the objectives agreed by the Members and the terms and conditions under which they will cooperate to achieve these objectives.

The primary purpose of EAWS is to support its Members in preventing the loss of lives and damages due to avalanches by providing the society with efficient and effective avalanche forecasting and warning services. In order to achieve this, EAWS is committed to:

  • developing standards, best practice guidelines and recommendations for avalanche warning services;
  • exchanging expertise and promoting staff training;
  • fostering cooperation between neighbouring services and promoting collaboration between Members;
  • enhancing the communication and awareness about the avalanche danger to all the categories of users through avalanche bulletins, new forecasting products and common standards and terminology;
  • liaising with other relevant organisations and engaging in strategic relationships and alliances with those that share the objectives of the EAWS;
  • ensuring that all programs, services, and materials are based on current research and scientific evidence;

2. Standards

The presently agreed standards are listed in Appendix A.

3. Membership

3.1 Members

The initial Members are the signatories of this MoU at the time of its entry into force.

3.2. Acceptance (or admission) of new Members

This MoU is also open for signature to new Members who, alike the initial Members:

  • comply with EAWSs standards;
  • have stable institutions guaranteeing, through a minimum level of funding, the operational issuing of regular avalanche forecasting products;
  • promote and practice regional cooperation and neighbourly relations with other avalanche warning services;
  • have the ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of scientific, technical and operational cooperation;
  • have the ability to provide a minimum level of funding to assure the participation of its representatives in EAWS meetings and the fulfilment of the tasks deriving from EAWS activities.

An AWS wishing to join EAWS shall address its application to its Chairperson who will forward the application to the Membership Committee that will assess the ability of the applicant to meet the conditions for membership. If the Membership Committee concludes that the applicant meets the main conditions of membership, the application is submitted (for vote) to the General Assembly. If the application of the AWS is accepted by the General Assembly, it shall become Member after a qualifying period of maximum three years, during which it shall:

  • implement, where appropriate, the required reforms;
  • have no voting rights in any decision of the General Assembly;
  • upon completion of this qualifying period, the candidate Member shall:
  1. confirm that it satisfies the conditions for membership, gain the status of Member and sign the MoU;
  2. as a result, have all rights and obligations of Members and acquire voting rights under the conditions specified in article 4.1;
  3. the accepted member and its share of votes are added to Appendix B
  4. in the event that the AWS candidate is not able to implement the required reforms, during the qualifying period, its position will shift to Observer without voting rights.

3.3. Suspension of membership

Should a Member cease to fulfil the terms and conditions for membership defined in this MoU, the General Assembly may decide on the recommendation of the
Membership Committee to suspend its membership for two years. Within this period of time the Membership Committee shall explore possible recovery actions with that Member. If the negotiations fail the membership is definitely terminated by the next GA.

3.4. Observers

Observer status is granted to organizations not eligible for membership, either because they operate geographically outside Europe or operate in the field of avalanche forecasting but do not comply with the conditions described in article 3.2. Observer status is granted by the General Assembly upon recommendation by the Membership Committee.

4. Governance

4.1. General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) is the supreme governing body of the EAWS. It meets at least every two years and is organized in turn by one or more of its Members.

The GA consists of representatives of each of the Members, candidate Members and Observers. Only Members shall have voting rights; the number of votes per Member is given in Appendix B. If one country has more than one Member, the AWSs/Members of that country have to agree on how to distribute the voting rights.

The GA is responsible for the implementation of this MoU, including the definition, follow – up and evaluation of all EAWS activities. An extraordinary GA can be held at the request of at least one third of the Members (according to their respective voting rights according to Appendix B).

The GA elects a representative of a Member as the Chairperson. The Chairperson shall represent EAWS between meetings and inform or liaise with Members as appropriate.

The GA elects, a representative of a Member as the Coordinator of the Technical Advisory Board. The Coordinator is entitled to act on behalf of the Chairperson if needed.

The GA monitors the progress of the EAWS activities, e valuates new challenges and upcoming issues.

With a qualified two-thirds majority vote, the GA:

  • elects the Chairperson and the Coordinator;
  • adopts and amends EAWS standards, guidelines or recommendations
  • approves the reports by the Technical Advisory Board and its Working Groups;
  • elects the members of the Technical Advisory Board and the Membership Committee
  • approves the creation of new Working Groups and appoints their members;
  • decides on admission and expulsion of Members on the recommendation of the Membership Committee.

The GA meetings are prepared by the Chairperson and the Coordinator with the help of the Technical Advisory Board. Only proposals approved by the Technical Advisory Board are submitted for voting to the GA. Proposals need to be supported by a report describing the proposed decisions and associated reasoning and should be distributed to Members at least four weeks prior to GA.

The GA can take decisions if at least 50% of the total voting rights of the Members are present or represented.

Candidate Members and Observers can attend the GA and may submit proposals and reports, but do not have voting rights.

4.2. Chairperson and Coordinator

Chairperson and Coordinator are elected in two round voting system by the GA for a term of two years. The Coordinator and the Chairperson are eligible for re-election for one further consecutive term.

Nominations for these two positions can be submitted to the current Chairperson or Coordinator up to eight weeks prior to the GA. The nominations are forwarded to the Technical Advisory Board for approval. Nominations approved by the Technical Advisory Board are submitted to the Members four weeks prior to the GA.

The Chairperson represents the EAWS; he/she can delegate this duty to the Coordinator. The Chairperson and the Coordinator are responsible for carrying out all those routine duties and specific tasks that have to be fulfilled between meetings. All letters that bind the EAWS need to be signed by the Chairperson and the Coordinator.

The Chairperson:

  • chairs the General Assembly;
  • prepares for the GA in collaboration with the organizing Member and the Coordinator;
  • prepares an annual report on the activities of the EAWS, to be circulated to the Members at least four weeks prior to the GA;
  • assists, if needed, the Coordinator in managing the Technical Advisory Board and its Working Groups, and suggests solutions to the specific challenges identified by the GA;

The Coordinator is head of the Technical Advisory Board. She/he shall exercise coordinating, executive and man agement functions and she/he shall assist, if needed, the Chairperson.

The Coordinator:

  • coordinates and assists the Technical Advisory Board and its Working Groups in finding solutions to the specific challenges identified by the GA;
  • ensures that the Working Groups report on their work progress;
  • prepares for the meetings of the Technical Board and its Working Groups to be held in between the GA;
  • prepares an annual report on the activities of the Technical Advisory Board and the Working Groups, to be circulated to the Members at least four weeks prior to the GA;
  • supports the Chairperson in managing the GA in collaboration with the organizing Member;
  • assists, if needed, the Chairperson in his/her tasks and duties;

4.3. Technical Advisory Boards and Working Groups

The Technical Advisory Board (TAB) is a technical body elected in two round voting system by the GA. It shall consist of up to eight representatives of the Members and the Coordinator. Representatives are elected for a term of two years and are eligible for re-election. The Technical Advisory Board is chaired by the Coordinator. Participants of the Working Groups may attend the meetings of the Technical Advisory Board.

The TAB evaluates and approves the proposals by the Working Groups prior to discussion and vote at the GA.

The Working Groups (WGs) are established to discuss and address specific topics, identified by the GA; they seek to unanimously agree on proposals that will have to be approved by the GA.

WGs are established by the GA for a fixed period of time and with a clear mandate. Each Working Group has one chair who is member of the TAB. The chair of a WG shall report to the Coordinator about its activities. The expected output/deliverable shall be produced following plans/deadlines established by the Working Groups and the final proposal will be submitted to the TAB for evaluation and approval.

All Members, candidate Members and Observers can propose one representative for membership to each Working Group. Nominations shall be submitted at the GA and up to eight weeks afterwards to the Coordinator. The nominations are then forwarded to the Technical Advisory Board for approval.

The participants of the WGs shall have the required and proven expertise to actively contribute to the mandate of the WG.

The Coordinator shall ensure that the WGs act consistently, efficiently and as a collegiate body.

4.4. Membership Committee

The Membership Committee is elected in two round voting system by the GA. It shall consist of up to five representatives of the Members. Representatives are elected for a term of two years and  are eligible for re-election. The Membership Committee shall elect one of its representatives as chair.

The Membership Committee evaluates applications for membership and submits applications to the GA that meet the main conditions of membership.

5. Liability

Each Member or candidate Member is not liable to any other Member or candidate Member for damage or injury attributable to the execution of its responsibilities under this MoU. Each Member or candidate Member will bear the cost of compensation for damage or injury of any kind suffered by its personnel or property within the framework of the execution of this MoU except in case of gross negligence or wilful act.

Each Member or acceding Member will bear its own costs of this cooperation unless expressly otherwise agreed in writing for specific programmes and projects.

6. Entry into force, duration and amendments

This MoU shall enter into force on 1 June 2017 and shall remain in force for a period of five years, and shall be extended for successive five-year periods unless otherwise decided by the Members.

The MoU can be terminated by a qualified majority of 75% of the Members (according to their respective voting rights according to Appendix B).

This MoU may only be amended in writing. Any amendments need the approval of a qualified majority of 75% of the Members (according to their respective voting rights according to Appendix B); amendments will take effect immediately after approval.

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