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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) 2001 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(98) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 505 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000) 705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001)1748 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1404 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1205 - Not published in the Official Journal]

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


In its July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission believed that full transposition of the environmental acquis could be achieved in Hungary in the medium term. However, the Opinion also made the point that the application of a number of pieces of legislation required a sustained, high level of investment and considerable administrative effort and effective harmonisation of Hungarian legislation on the Community acquis could be achieved only in the very long term. According to the Opinion, harmonisation would depend in particular on changes to the structure of the enforcement system and its instruments, and also on the application of the proposed national accession strategy in terms of the environment. It would also depend on increased public and private investment.

The November 1998 Report noted that there had been a slowing down in the process of legislative harmonisation and stressed that Hungary had not met the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership. The national legislation harmonisation programme and the accompanying budget provisions provide for full transposition of all of the environment acquis during the period 2000-2001.

The October 1999 Report found that progress had been achieved in the areas of nature protection, pollution from industrial plants and large combustion plants as well as the control of major accidents. However, substantial efforts were still needed, in particular in the areas of waste and waste management, water and air quality. If Hungary wanted to achieve its ambitious target for full transposition in 2001, it would need to urgently speed up both legal alignment and boost investment in environmental technology and infrastructure.

The November 2000 Report stated that efforts to align legislation on the acquis were still needed in the following areas: horizontal legislation, access to information, waste management, quality of drinking and bathing water, treatment of waste water, prevention and reduction of industrial pollution, and noise emissions. Administrative capacity had to be increased.

The November 2001 Report pointed to a great deal of progress, particularly in the fields of water, waste, environmental impact assessments, industrial pollution control, radiation protection and chemicals.

The October 2002 Report indicates that Hungary has made good progress in its legislative work, including the adoption of legislation in the air, water, industrial pollution control and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) sectors. It has stepped up its administrative capacity to implement and enforce Community law.

The November 2003 Report notes that Hungary is essentially meeting the environmental commitments arising from the accession negotiations (concluded in December 2002). The country should be able to implement most of the environmental acquis when it joins the Union on 1 May 2004.

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 of 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 Hungarian 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.


The administrative capacity of the Ministry of Environment has been strengthened. An inter-ministerial committee on sustainable development has been established, which involves key actors from the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture, Transport and others. Water management and air quality monitoring have been entrusted to the Ministry of the Environment. The number of personnel dealing with environmental issues has increased. Training is being provided for staff at all levels in nearly all sectors.

In April 2000, the environment ministers of Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia signed a declaration on the need to cooperate to avoid environmental disasters in the region, and to apply the principle of "polluter pays" and identify areas at risk. In another development, the ministers from Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia signed a declaration on the exchange of information on the economic impact of alignment with Community environment legislation and on the best ways of implementing the regulations.

Integration of environmental issues into the formulation and implementation of other policies and promotion of sustainable development have been taken on by the National Environment Council, which is an advisory body to the Government. Economic strategy and sectoral development programmes are being drawn up, taking into account environmental considerations.

The transposition of horizontal legislation has been completed and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent provisions on strategic environmental impact assessment. The competent authority for strategic environmental impact assessment still needs to be designated. A law on environmental impact assessments was adopted in April 2001. In the same year, Hungary ratified and transposed the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The National Climate Change Strategy is currently being reviewed.

In the water sector, the legislation has been transposed and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent framework acquis on water, which needs to be adopted by the time Hungary joins the Union on 1 May 2004. Programmes for discharges of dangerous substances and action plans with regard to surface water also need to be finalised by accession. Hungary needs to continue to improve its water quality monitoring system. Coordination between the ministries and the regional authorities should be maintained. Wastewater collection systems and treatment plants have been constructed in several large towns. In March 2000, three water quality-monitoring stations were put into operation. Legislation has been adopted on the quality of drinking water, discharges of dangerous substances, the quality of bathing water, the designation of wastewater agglomerations, registration and reporting obligations regarding urban wastewater, and sewage fines.

In the field of industrial pollution and risk management, pollution from industrial plants and large combustion plants has been gradually reduced. Hungarian legislation has been brought into line with the Community acquis, except for the national emission ceilings legislation, which will need to be adopted by 1 May 2004. A Bureau has been set up to assist with the implementation of the Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control, and greater efforts are required to ensure that permits are issued for the installations covered by the Directive.

The Seveso II Directive on the control of major accident hazards was transposed in June 2001. The transposing legislation entered into force in 2002. Nonetheless, the setting-up of a notification system, the establishment of an identification system and the assessment of safety reports still need to be completed. Hungary is one of the first countries to have signed and ratified the UN-ECE Convention on Industrial Accidents. Transitional arrangements have been agreed for certain installations and for large combustion plants (until 30 June 2005 and 31 December 2004, respectively).

Hungary has transposed transposed all the Community legislation on the quality of ambient air. Its legislation is in line with the acquis, though air quality plans and programmes need to be completed and monitoring enhanced. Legislation which conforms to Community provisions on petrol and diesel quality has been adopted, as well as a ban on the sale of leaded petrol. A database on air quality has been created. Hungary has ratified the Gothenburg Protocol to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. As regards climate change, Hungary has ratified the 1995 Climate Convention and has also acceded to and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Hungarian legislation has been harmonised with the Directive on non-road mobile machinery and the Directive on consumer information on fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions.

Alignment of the noise legislation is complete, except for the recent acquis on ambient noise, which needs to be adopted by 1 May 2004. Standards have been adopted for noise emitted by lawnmowers and household appliances. Quality assurance and control started in 1998. An additional acoustic laboratory has been set up. The Directives on noise emissions of outdoor equipment and household appliances have been adopted. A new information system is being set up for the processing of data from traffic and industrial and commercial operations. Legislation on noise emission in the environment by equipment for use outdoors entered into force in 2002.

In the field of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemicals, most of the legislation has been transposed and is in line with the acquis, though the legislation on asbestos and the recent provisions on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs still need to be transposed. The institutional and procedural framework for GMOs still has to be finalised. Coordination between the organisations involved needs to be further enhanced. A database which includes information on all GMO activities has been set up, as has a licensing authority. A Law on chemical substances was introduced in April 2000. The Institute for Chemical Safety has been created and will enhance the implementation of the legislation adopted. In the same field, laboratory capacity in the Institute for Environmental Management has been improved. A law has been adopted which restricts the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations.

The Community waste management legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the acquis on end-of-life vehicles, which needs to be completed by accession. Local waste management plans also need to be produced. More staff are needed to deal with waste management within the Regional Environmental Inspectorates and in the municipalities. A supervision system for waste shipments and a permit and deregistration system for end-of-life vehicles need to be completed. The establishment of collection systems and recovery and disposal facilities needs to continue. In June 2000, the Waste Management Law was adopted. Modern regional waste disposal sites have been set up. A computerised register of waste management licences has been set up under the Law on solid municipal waste. Hungary has signed the Basle Protocol on transboundary movements of hazardous waste. A legal act has been adopted on waste management fines. As regards packaging waste, a transitional arrangement until 31 December 2005 has been agreed.

In the field of radiation protection, transposition of the Community acquis is complete, except for information on emergencies; which needs to be transposed by accession. Hungary has ratified the Joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel management and on the safety of radioactive waste management. A law permitting transboundary shipments of radioactive waste entered into force in 2002.

In the area of nature protection, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for implementing legislation on habitats and birds. In this context, particular attention needs to be paid to clarifying the issue of consultation of stakeholders. Hungary is an active party to the Washington Convention on trade in endangered species (CITES), which requires implementation arrangements similar to those of the acquis. New legislation adopted in May 2001 prohibits the capture, killing, transport, disturbance, trade, etc. of protected species. The Hungarian authorities have identified 53 sites as special protection areas. The lists of sites of Community interest and special protection areas need to be completed by accession. Administrative capacity in the area of nature protection needs to be stepped up.

The issue of nuclear safety is dealt with in the energy chapter.

Negotiations on this chapter have been closed.

Last updated: 11.02.2004