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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(1997)2006 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(1998)705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(1999)504 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2000)704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2001)700 final - SEC(2001)1747 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2002)700 final - SEC(2002)1403 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1201 - Not published in the Official Journal]Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission considered that the free movement of goods should not be a serious obstacle to Estonia's accession provided that current legislative reform was pursued and enforced, especially in the fields of standardisation and conformity assessment. However, it noted that despite laudable approximation efforts in these fields there were doubts about the country's capacity to quickly incorporate and enforce a substantial body of legislation in a number of technical areas.

The November 1998 Report noted some limited progress in this field, notably in the implementation of the acquis concerning motor vehicles, foodstuffs and chemical products. However, it also noted delays in the implementation of the fundamental principles of the New Approach on standardisation, conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance.

The October 1999 Report stressed that considerable progress had been made in product specific areas. Progress in the New Approach area had been much slower. The main challenges still to be met were the lack of human resources and clearly defined policies in some areas.

The November 2000 Report noted that Estonia had made considerable progress, particularly as regards standardisation and conformity assessment.

In its November 2001 Report, the Commission considered that Estonia had made progress in a number of fields, including public procurement and standards.

The October 2002 Report notes that progress has been made in a number of areas, including conformity assessment and standardisation.

In its November 2003 Report, the Commission notes that Estonia still needs to make some changes but should be in a position to implement the acquis from accession.

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


Free movement of goods can only be achieved by removing measures which restrict trade - not only customs duties and quantitative restrictions but all measures with equivalent, i.e. protectionist, effect.

Where technical standards are not harmonised, the principle of mutual recognition of national rules applies (in line with the Cassis de Dijon judgment).

For the purpose of harmonisation, the European Community has developed the " New Approach ". Instead of imposing technical solutions, European Community legislation is limited to establishing the essential requirements that products must meet.


Adoption of legislation implementing the basic principles of the New Approach on standardisation, conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance has slowed down due to resource constraints.

The Technical Norms and Standards Act, adopted in April 1999, is the main legislative framework for adopting standards and establishing the institutional organisation of standardisation. It abolishes the obligation to translate standards into Estonian, which should speed up their implementation. Overall, only 78 out of approximately 7 000 European standards have been adopted. No clear strategy to address this problem has yet been defined. In April 2000, the Estonian Centre for Standardisation began to operate as an official standardisation body. Estonia has made considerable progress in adopting European standards: by 30 September 2000, it had adopted and implemented 4 670 European standards.

The Product Conformity Assessment Act does not yet comply with the "New Approach" principles. The drafting of amendments is delaying the process. A new law, adopted in November 1999, entered into force in January 2001.

A new Metrology Act entered into force in January 1999. It establishes an independent accreditation body, the Estonian Accreditation Agency. However, it does not provide a comprehensive legal basis for accreditation as intended. Full membership of European accreditation has also been denied. Amendments to the Metrology Act were adopted in June 2000 in order to align the legislation in this field with the acquis.

Further amendments are needed in order to transpose "Old" and "New Approach" directives. Progress in sector-specific legislation relating to areas covered by the New Approach has been uneven. Further efforts are needed in legislation covering gas cylinders, machinery, toys and medical equipment. In 2001, the legislation was adapted in the fields of machinery safety, explosive substances, medical devices and toys. The 2003 Report notes that much of Estonia's legislation has been aligned with the New Approach directives, but there is still some way to go in some specific areas.

Progress in sector-specific legislation relating to areas covered by the Old Approach has mainly been achieved in the foodstuffs field. A new framework law entered into force in January 2000. Progress has also been made in the chemical products and pharmaceuticals sectors and in the areas of fertilisers, pyrotechnical goods, cosmetics and footwear. No significant progress has been made in the motor vehicles sector. In 2002, progress was made in implementing the acquis on chemical products, cosmetics and medicines. In the field of firearms control, a new law was adopted in June 2001 in order to align Estonian legislation with the acquis. The 2003 report notes that there have been delays in transposing European directives in the field of construction. In the non-harmonised sector, Estonia needs to include mutual recognition clauses in existing legislation.

For information on product safety, see the section on Consumers.

In March 2000, a strategy towards setting up a Public Procurement Information System was adopted. The new legislation has been applied since April 2001: it represents progress on the path to alignment of Estonian legislation with the acquis. The 2003 Report notes that the administrative capacity of the Public Procurement Office needs to be reinforced.

Negotiations on the chapter on the free movement of goods have been closed. Estonia has not requested any transitional arrangements.

As regards the adoption of the acquis concerning the customs union, Estonia has made some progress, the most important being the introduction of customs duties for certain products. Progress was also made on tax-free zones. In 2001, some advances were made: the parliament adopted the new customs code, which should enter into force in July 2002. This new code aims to fully align the customs legislation with the Community Customs Code. Nevertheless, Estonia should continue to tackle the issue of waiting time at borders and the fight against customs fraud. In 2002, progress was made in terms of the administrative and operational capacities for implementing the acquis. The 2003 Report notes that Estonia is essentially meeting the commitments and requirements for membership in the customs union area. Negotiations on the customs union have been closed. No transitional arrangements have been requested.

Last updated: 16.02.2004