Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2005 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(98) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(99) 506 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2000) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1749 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1405 - Not published in the Official Journal]Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1203 - 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 European Commission expressed the view that, given the current pattern and speed of reforms in Latvia, full transposition of the environmental acquis could be achieved in the medium term. However, effective compliance with a number of pieces of legislation (e.g. urban waste water treatment, drinking water, waste management and air pollution legislation) could be achieved only in the long term and would require a significant increase in environmental investment, as well as a major effort to reinforce the administrative capacity.

The November 1998 Report confirmed that some progress had been made towards meeting the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership, but stated that efforts were still needed in the air, waste and wastewater sectors and to develop programmes to implement a number of Directives. Latvia also needed to reinforce its monitoring infrastructure in the air and water sectors, particularly at local level. The amount of private and public investment also needed to be increased, in cooperation with the international financial institutions, in order to meet the environmental acquis.

The October 1999 Report noted that alignment with the acquis was progressing satisfactorily.

The November 2000 Report stated that Latvia had made further progress with adoption of the acquis, particularly on environmental information, nature protection, waste management and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Measures had also been taken to strengthen its administrative capacity.

In its November 2001 Report the Commission found that progress had been made on alignment with the acquis, particularly on waste management, pollution, nature protection and nuclear safety. Efforts were still required in the fields of water quality, waste management and chemicals. Several specialised bodies had been set up, including the Latvian Environment Agency, the GMOs Monitoring Council, the Packaging Management Council and the Radiation Safety Centre.

The October 2002 Report underlined the progress made with alignment, especially in relation to water quality, waste management, nature protection and noise. Latvia now needed to focus on finalising transposition, improving coordination and cooperation between national, regional and local levels and strengthening administrative capacity.

The November 2003 Report noted that Latvia was essentially meeting the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations (concluded in December 2002) and was expected to be in a position to implement most of the environment acquis when it joined 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 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 Latvian 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.


Latvia has addressed the issue of integrating the environment into other sectors in its National Environmental Policy Plan, and specific steps in this regard are found in the National Environmental Action Programme. Latvia is also part of Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea. In this context it has continued to implement the action programme for sustainable development. A Sustainable Development Council was set up in March 2002. Environmental issues have been included in strategic documents of other sectors, such as agriculture, energy and fisheries. A sustainable development strategy was approved in August 2002.

All the environmental horizontal legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on strategic environmental impact assessment, which needs to be transposed and implemented by July 2004. An Environmental Impact Assessment Bureau has been set up.

The Latvian legislation on access to information is in line with the Community acquis. This field falls under the responsibility of the Latvian Environment Agency. Latvia signed the Aarhus Convention in 1998 and ratified it in April 2002.

Latvia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and has ratified the Convention on Climate Change. The Kyoto Protocol was ratified by the Latvian Parliament in June 2002.

As concerns water quality, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for implementing regulations concerning the recent framework acquis on water, which need to be adopted by accession. Programmes for nitrates and discharges of dangerous substances need to be finalised and adopted. Permits for discharges need to be reviewed and issued by 1 May 2004. Transitional arrangements up to December 2015 for urban wastewater and drinking water have been agreed.

On waste management, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on end-of-life vehicles, which needs to be transposed by accession. Continued attention needs to be paid to staffing at regional environmental boards. The permit and de-registration systems for end-of-life vehicles and the inventory of PCB/PCT need to be established at the latest by accession. Construction of hazardous waste and asbestos landfills needs to be completed by the end of 2004. Latvia's Waste Management Law entered into force in March 2001. A Packaging Management Council was established in December 2000. New landfills have been opened and existing landfills closed. Waste collection has been enhanced and there has been further preparation to overhaul the permits system. A National Waste Management Plan was adopted in August 2002. Transitional arrangements have been agreed for packaging waste and the temporary storage of hazardous waste up to December 2007 and December 2004 respectively.

Concerning industrial pollution control and risk management, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis. The Law on large combustion plants entered into force for new plants in July 2000. The new acquis on Large Combustion Plants was adopted in 2002. The main installations covered by the IPPC and Seveso Directives have been identified. An integrated permits system concerning integrated pollution prevention and control was introduced in January 2002. Permits need to continue to be issued and the Directive complied with by October 2007. Transitional arrangements have been agreed for certain installations covered by the IPPC Directive up to December 2010.

In the field of air quality, Latvia's legislation is in line with the acquis, except for the sulphur content of liquid fuels and the recent acquis on ozone. Air quality plans and programmes need to be completed by accession. All the institutions for implementing the air quality requirements are in place. The Latvian Hydrometeorological Agency is the competent authority for air quality assessment. Transitional arrangements up to December 2008 have been agreed for certain installations in respect of volatile organic compound emissions from the storage and distribution of petrol.

The legislation on chemicals is in place and is in line with the acquis. Authorisation procedures need to be introduced for biocides. A regulation on the use and marketing of dangerous chemicals was adopted in April 2000. A Chemicals Bureau has been set up. A regulation on procedures for notification and environmental and human health risk assessment of new chemical substances was adopted in August 2002. Legislation on asbestos was adopted in October 2001.

The legislation on GMOs is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on deliberate release into the environment, which needs to be transposed by accession. A notification procedure for GMOs also needs to be set up by accession. Also, administrative capacity regarding GMOs appears to be insufficient, and a competent authority needs to be designated.

In the field of radiation protection and nuclear safety, legislative alignment has been completed and is in line with the acquis. A Law on Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection entered into force in November 2000, and a Radiation Safety Centre began operations in July 2001. Legislation has been adopted in relation to the requirements for practices involving radioactive waste and related materials, accountancy and control of nuclear materials, and the criteria and principles for establishment of equivalence for radioactive waste. Transitional arrangements up to December 2005 have been agreed regarding medical exposure.

In the field of nature protection, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for implementing legislation regarding habitats and birds, which needs to be adopted by accession. A list of proposed sites of Community interest needs to be finalised, and special protection areas designated, by accession. A law on the protection of species and biotopes and other laws on nature reserves and national parks were adopted in March 2000. In May 2000 the Government adopted a National Biodiversity Programme. A number of laws were adopted in 2001, particularly on microreserves, on issuing permits for non-huntable species, on compensation for damage to protected species and habitats, and on keeping wild species in captivity. A Nature Protection Board has been set up, and has been operational since May 2002.

With regard to noise, the legislation is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on ambient noise, which needs to be adopted by July 2004.

Latvia estimates that it will take public investment of EUR 1.2 billion and private funding of between EUR 305 and EUR 742 million to comply with the Community's environmental acquis by 2015.

Measures have been taken to strengthen administrative structures. A Sustainable Development Council and a Nature Protection Board have been set up. The inspection system has been reinforced. Training programmes have continued, focusing mainly on horizontal legislation, Regional Environmental Board inspections, air quality, waste management, nature protection, and nuclear safety and radiation protection.

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

Negotiations on this chapter have been closed.

Last updated: 11.02.2004