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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) 2002 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(98) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 509 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000) 709 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1752 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1408 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1207 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


The July 1997 Opinion stated that the Community's environmental acquis could be fully transposed in Poland in the medium term, but that more time and increased public and private investment was needed to align certain areas (urban waste water, drinking water, waste management, legislation concerning air pollution, etc.).

The November 1998 Report concluded that the overall framework was inadequate and did not permit an assessment of the progress that could be made in the short term. It also noted that no significant progress had been made in the legislative sector.

The October 1999 Report urged Poland to speed up its transposition of the environmental acquis. There had nevertheless been some progress through the partial transposition of the EU environmental protection directives. In addition, the administrative reform that took effect on 1 January had improved the institutional structure at regional and local level. Poland nonetheless had to ensure that all framework legislation was transposed.

The November 2001 Report noted that progress had been made with adoption of framework laws, notably the Act on Environmental Impact Assessment and on Access to Information, the Act on Waste and the Act on Environmental Protection. Programmes to implement the acquis had been prepared.

The October 2002 Report indicated that Poland had made legislative progress through the adoption of executive regulations and had continued its efforts to strengthen its administrative capacity to implement and enforce the acquis. However, transposition still had to be completed. The environmental administration needed to be strengthened further.

The November 2003 Report indicates that Poland is essentially meeting the commitments arising from the accession negotiations (concluded in December 2002). Subject to enhancing of administrative capacity at regional and local levels, Poland should be in a position to implement the majority of the environmental acquis by 1 May 2004, the date of accession to the Union.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.


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 Polish 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.


Poland is participating in implementation of the action programme for sustainable development adopted by all Baltic Sea countries.

A long-term strategy for sustainable development has been adopted. The executive programme referred to facilitates the integration of environmental concerns into other sectoral policies.

In the field of horizontal legislation, the necessary legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on strategic environmental impact assessment. The Act on Environmental Impact Assessment and on Access to Information entered into force in January 2001. An environmental information centre has been set up. The reform of Poland's territorial organisation has significantly modified the institutional structure in this field. The new regions (Voivodships) and counties (Poviats) are henceforth responsible for permits and controls. The Environmental Protection Act was adopted in April 2001. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been ratified.

In the water sector, legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent framework acquis on water. Drinking water monitoring needs to be enhanced. The list of zones vulnerable to nitrates and the inventory of discharges of dangerous substances need to be finalised by 1 May 2004. The same applies to discharge authorisations and programmes to prevent pollution by nitrates. Transitional arrangements have been agreed until 31 December 2015 for urban waste water and until 31 December 2007 for discharges of dangerous substances.

The legislation on waste management is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on end-of-life vehicles which needs to be completed by accession. The national waste management plan needs to be applied at voivodship, powiat and gmina (local) levels. A supervision system for waste shipments and a deregistration system for end-of-life vehicles need to be completed by accession. The establishment of collection systems and recovery and disposal facilities needs to continue. Administrative capacities in this field need to be strengthened at regional and local levels. Three transitional arrangements have been agreed until 31 December 2007, 1 July 2012 and 31 December 2012 for packaging waste, landfill of waste and waste shipments respectively.

The Nature Conservation Act must be adopted to fully implement the Habitats and Birds Directives (Natura 2000). The lists of proposed sites of Community interest and special protection areas have yet to be completed. Administrative capacities need to be enhanced at voivodship level, particularly as regards the consultation process.

With regard to industrial pollution and industrial risk management, legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the acquis on emissions from solvents, large combustion plants and national emission ceilings. These provisions need to be transposed by 1 May 2004. Efforts are required to ensure that permits are issued to all installations subject to the Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPCC). The installations' conformity with the permits must be verified before October 2007.The provisions in the Seveso II Directive need to be implemented by accession. Transitional arrangements until 2010 and 2017 have been agreed for industrial pollution prevention and control and for large combustion plants respectively.

Legislation on air quality is in place and is in line with the acquis. Air quality plans and programmes need to be completed and their monitoring enhanced. Transitional arrangements have been agreed until 2005 and 2006 for volatile organic compound emissions from the storage and distribution of petrol and for the sulphur content of liquid fuels respectively.

With regard to noise, transposition is proceeding according to schedule and the legislation is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on ambient noise, which needs to be transposed by July 2004. Testing and notified bodies need to be approved.

In the sector of chemicals and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), transposition has been completed. The legislation is in line with the acquis, except for biocides. Authorisation procedures for biocides need to be established by 1 May 2004. A GMO Commission has been set up, as has a Chemical Substances and Preparations Inspection Office. Efforts to enhance co-ordination between the organisations involved need to continue.

In the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection, legislative alignment has largely been completed and is in line with the acquis. The National Atomic Energy Agency has completed a programme on radioactive waste and spent fuel management in Poland. A transitional arrangement until 31 December 2006 has been agreed for medical exposure.

Poland has continued to invest in environmental protection, mainly through the National Fund for Environmental Protection. The investment stands at around 2 billion, corresponding to 1.7% of Poland's gross domestic product.

Poland is participating in the European Environment Agency and the European environment information and observation network.

Negotiations on this chapter have been closed.

Last updated: 13.01.2004