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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2008 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(98) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 501 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1744 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1400 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003) 676 final - SEC(2003) 1210 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1199 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1352 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]


In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that compliance with the Community acquis would require a positive change in the economic situation and that Bulgaria, despite problems in specific sectors such as urban waste water treatment or drinking water, would be capable of transposing all the Community acquis in the medium or long term.

The November 1998 Report, by contrast, was more cautious. In spite of the progress made on the priorities of the Accession Partnership, it will probably take longer to implement the Community legislation in this area than indicated in the first Opinion. The administrative structure responsible for practical implementation will have to be improved and additional efforts made to transpose framework legislation and horizontal legislation.

The October 1999 Report noted that Bulgaria has made progress in harmonising its legislation to the acquis and in respecting the priorities of the Accession Partnership. It nevertheless calls also for additional efforts to be made in some areas such as nature protection, water quality and industrial pollution and in order to improve the administrative capacity to implement the legislation. The main difficulty in the environmental sector remains the lack of large-scale investments.

The November 2000 Report pointed out that progress was made in transposing the framework legislation in the water, air and waste sectors. Specific alignment programmes were implemented for each Directive. Administrative capacity was increased, in particular at regional level.

The November 2001 Report noted the progress made in transposing the acquis. Although strategies had been drawn up for implementation, there were still problems in this respect. A financing strategy needed to be drawn up and administrative capacity strengthened.

The October 2002 Report indicated that Bulgaria had continued its progress with transposing the acquis and with preparing to implement the legislation. Nonetheless, implementation and administrative capacity remained a major challenge.

The November 2003 Report noted that greater administrative capacity and budgetary resources are needed to implement the acquis. In general, there was a good level of alignment of environment legislation. Negotiations on this chapter have been provisionally closed.

The October 2004 Report noted the steady progress in transposing and implementing the acquis, but pointed out that efforts still need to be made, in particular regarding air and water quality, the management of dangerous substances and chemicals. Bulgaria has provisionally closed negotiations on the environment chapter.

The October 2005 Report stresses the need for Bulgaria to intensify its efforts, in particular regarding horizontal legislation, integrated pollution prevention and control and waste management. Administrative capacity must be significantly improved in these areas, which means more staff and better training.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.


The Union's environmental policy, as set out in the EC Treaty, aims to achieve sustainability by including environmental protection in EU sectoral policies, preventive measures, the "polluter pays" principle, combating environmental pollution at source, and shared responsibility. The acquis comprises approximately 200 legal instruments covering a wide range of fields, including water and air pollution, the management of waste and chemicals, biotechnology, radiation protection and nature conservation. Member States must ensure that an environmental impact assessment is carried out before approving certain public and private-sector development projects.

The European Association Agreement stipulates that Bulgarian development policies must be guided by the principle of sustainable development and take full account of environmental considerations.

The White Paper on the preparation of the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe for integration into the internal market of the Union (1995) covers only a small part of the environmental acquis, namely product-related legislation, which is directly related to the free movement of goods.


Bulgaria has adopted a national programme for the introduction and implementation of Community legislation. Alignment of environment legislation is generally good. Bulgaria is continuing to integrate environmental concerns into other policies. Nonetheless, efforts are still required in a number of policy areas, such as energy, transport and infrastructure.

Concerning horizontal legislation, Bulgaria has set up a competent authority to deal with strategic environmental impact assessment, and centres for promoting access to environmental information. An environmental protection law was adopted in September 2002. Application of the precautionary principle must be further improved, particularly with regard to environmental impact assessment.

The country has continued to make progress in the field of clean air legislation. Plans have been drawn up to implement the legislation on the sulphur content of liquid fuels and on emissions of volatile organic compounds from the storage and distribution of petrol. Regulations have entered into force on the storage and distribution of oil, the content of harmful substances in fuels and the technical inspection of vehicles and a law on the fuel quality and distribution has been adopted. A national air quality monitoring system has been set up. In December 1999, Bulgaria signed the United Nations Protocol on reduction of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone. The Protocol on persistent organic pollutants has also been signed.

In the area of waste, further progress was made on alignment. The law on waste management was adopted in September 2003. The national waste management plan has been updated. Existing landfills are being closed or upgraded. Regulations have been adopted on batteries, waste oils, end-of-life vehicles and sewage sludge. A network of waste disposal installations and systems for the recovery of certain waste have to be established.

With regard to water quality, water basin management authorities are now in place and staffing levels in this area have risen. Progress has been made in implementing requirements concerning urban waste water treatment. A partial inventory of discharges of dangerous substances and programmes to prevent pollution by certain dangerous substances have been adopted; moreover the granting of permits is underway, as well as the revision of the monitoring system. In July 1999 Bulgaria adopted a Water Act in order to introduce the requirements of the Water Framework Directive into its national legislation. It entered into force in January 2000. The transposition of the Framework Directive on water is almost complete, and a register of the areas that it protects has still to be established. Bulgaria ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Danube in March 1999. Legislation has been adopted with regard to drinking water, bathing water, groundwater and river-basin water. The Directives on urban waste water, drinking water, bathing water and the quality of surface water for abstraction of drinking water have been transposed. In addition, vulnerable zones have been identified. The system for monitoring drinking water has still to be put in place.

As regards industrial pollution control and risk management, some progress has been made in implementing the acquis, notably with the preparation of an inventory of installations and a timetable for issuing integrated permits; the issuing of these permits is underway. The competent authorities have also been allocated more staff.

With regard to nuclear safety and radiation protection, progress has been made in alignment with Community legislation. Regulations on the storage of radioactive waste entered into force in August 2000. Regulations have been adopted on the radioactive contamination of agricultural products and on requirements to limit the radioactive contamination of foodstuffs. A law has been adopted on the safe use of nuclear energy. Bulgaria needs to focus on implementing this legislation.

Legislation has been adopted on pollution by asbestos, the protection of animals used for experimental purposes, and ozone-depleting substances. Emphasis now needs to be placed on adopting an implementation schedule. A Law on protection against the harmful effects of chemicals entered into force in February 2000. Other laws on the management and control of substances that deplete the ozone layer were published in January 2000. Bulgaria has ratified the Rotterdam convention on certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade, and the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety. Legislation has been adopted on the import and export of certain dangerous substances and on the risk assessment of new chemical substances. Legislation has been adopted on biocides. Measures have also been taken concerning the import and export of dangerous chemical substances.

Some progress has been made with regard to noise pollution, with the adoption of legislation on household appliances and outdoor equipment, the designation of the National Metrology Agency as the competent authority in the field and the accreditation of test laboratories.

Only slight progress has been made in relation to GMOs. The institutions involved have been reinforced with extra staff and training.

As regards nature protection, good progress has been made in the protection of species covered by the CITES convention and the setting up of the Natura 2000 network. Bulgaria has adopted a law on protected areas, which was amended in April 2000, and a national strategy for biodiversity. The law on biological diversity adopted in 2002 has transposed the acquis on birds and habitats. Administrative staff and non-governmental organisations have received training and been made aware of certain aspects of nature protection.

As regards administrative capacity, implementation of the plans to recruit new staff and strengthen government bodies is nearing completion. In total, 431 new posts have been created: 42 at central level, 130 at regional level and 269 for the Executive Agency for the Environment and other competent authorities. Regional and central government bodies have also been reinforced. Coordination between ministries has improved, particularly with regard to investments in infrastructure and in nature protection. Administrative capacity must be improved in the areas of horizontal legislation, waste water, industrial risks, chemical substances, genetically modified organisms, nuclear safety and radiological protection.

Major investment will be required in the medium term to implement the Community acquis. The focus should be on the planning, identification and availability of financial resources. Community aid needs to be better managed.

Negotiations between Bulgaria and the Union on the environment chapter have been provisionally closed. Transitional arrangements have been agreed until 2008 for electrical and electronic waste, until 2009 for emissions of volatile organic compounds from the storage and distribution of petrol and for certain shipments of waste, until 2011 for the sulphur content of certain fuels and the recovery and recycling of packaging waste, until 2012 for integrated pollution prevention and control, until 2014 for the landfilling of certain liquid wastes and for large combustion plants and until 2015 for urban waste water.

Last updated: 12.12.2005