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Latvia

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1) REFERENCES

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(1999) 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]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission considered that Latvia had recently made some progress towards alignment on Community legislation concerning the free movement of goods and that considerable efforts had been made in the fields of standardisation and conformity assessment. However, the Commission called on the Latvian authorities to direct their efforts towards aligning technical legislation, the major difficulty being the lack of experienced staff.

The Commission concluded that the implementation of EU legislation in this field should not constitute a serious obstacle to Latvia's accession provided that it kept up the pace of harmonisation, but that the Latvian authorities should also ensure, in areas not covered by Community harmonisation, that their national laws were not likely to hamper trade.

The November 1998 Report noted that some progress had been made, notably in the alignment of technical legislation. The legislative framework of the New Approach had been put in place. However, progress in the transposition of harmonised European standards had been limited.

In its October 1999 Report, the Commission considered that Latvia had made considerable progress in bringing its legislation into line with the Community acquis and strengthening implementation structures. However, it needed to make further efforts to ensure enough qualified staff and put a proper market surveillance system in place.

The November 2000 Report stated that since 1999 Latvia had made substantial progress in aligning its legislation with the acquis and strengthening administrative structures.

In its November 2001 Report, the Commission noted that Latvia had made significant progress in aligning its legislation with the acquis and strengthening the corresponding administrative capacities.

The October 2002 Report noted that Latvia had made steady progress in the area of the free movement of goods and the customs union.

In its November 2003 Report, the Commission considers that Latvia is essentially meeting the requirements for membership, but still needs to make specific progress in certain areas.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

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 which products must meet.

EVALUATION

Latvia has adopted laws on standardisation, manufacturers' liability and product safety, which constitute the legislative framework of the New Approach. In addition, the framework legislation on conformity assessment has been amended to be fully in line with the Community acquis and the Community regulations on conformity assessment procedures have been transposed. The 2002 report considers that transposition of the general legal framework for the principles of the New and Global Approaches has been completed.

Progress has also been made in the transposition of harmonised European standards within the framework of the programme launched by Latvia with a view to adopting all European standards before 2004. The 2001 report states that Latvia has accelerated the adoption of European standards.

The independence of the standardisation, accreditation and conformity assessment bodies has been strengthened in order to achieve a fully operational high-quality system. The Latvian Accreditation Office, which became a full member of the European Accreditation Association in 1999, is an independent non-profit-making organisation and the Latvian Metrological Centre is due to become a public agency. Moreover, the Latvian Standardisation Organisation now has access to more substantial financial and human resources. This institutional framework was supplemented by the creation in March 2000 of the Latvian Accreditation Council, which is an advisory body, and the Bureau for Chemical Substances. Further progress was made in 2001 in strengthening the framework institutions, in particular as regards their independence and the quality of their operation in the field of accreditation and standardisation. Concrete measures to reform the market surveillance system have been taken.

Significant progress has been made with regard to sectoral legislation. As far as the sectors covered by the New Approach are concerned, the directives on machinery, construction products, electromagnetic compatibility, low tension, personal protective equipment, gas appliances, electrical safety of equipment and simple pressure vessels have been transposed. Efforts have also been made in relation to toys, charging devices, machinery, electrical equipment, medical equipment and pressure vessels. However, progress is still required in the transposition of the directives on gas and pleasure boats. At the time of the adoption of the 2002 report, all of the directives, with the exception of only a few, had been transposed into Latvian legislation. The 2003 report notes that Latvia has transposed all of the new approach legislation and that Latvia's legislation in this field is in line with the acquis.

In relation to the sectors covered by the "old approach" directives, the framework legislation on foodstuffs and regulations on labelling, extraction solvents, hygiene, flavouring and articles in contact with food have also been adopted and have come into force. In 2003, the report states that Latvia needs to further transpose the foodstuffs acquis.

Framework legislation on the marketing and use of chemical products and substances and a regulation on the classification, packaging and labelling of chemical products have already been adopted. Legislation on drug precursors and safety of detergents has also been amended. The law on chemical products and substances was amended in December 2000. In the 2003 report, the Commission considers that Latvia should make additional efforts to provisionally notify "new" chemical substances prior to accession.

Progress has been made in the pharmaceuticals field following the adoption in 1998 of a framework law on pharmaceutical activities and a law on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. A law on labelling medicines was later adopted and the 1997 law on pharmaceutical activities was amended in 2000.

Regulations on the labelling of crystal and glass have been approved.

No new developments took place in 2001 as regards the non-harmonised sector and in particular the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition. The 2003 report notes that Latvia still needs to implement this principle.

Finally, in the field of public contracts, a law on the award of contracts has been adopted. It provides for the creation of a Surveillance Authority in the Field of Procurement. In addition, the Latvian law on the award of contracts at governmental and municipal level has been amended in order to improve the flow of information. In 2001, Latvia continued to align its legislation with the acquis. In 2002, the adoption of the Law on Procurement for Government and Municipal Needs accelerated alignment in this field. Administrative capacity was strengthened through the creation of a Public Procurement Surveillance Bureau.

Negotiations on the chapter on the free movement of goods were closed in December 2002. Latvia has not requested any transitional arrangements.

As regards the chapter on customs union, the customs legislation was amended in 2001 in order to ensure full alignment with the Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions. Latvia has also adopted a number of important regulations concerning duty relief, the Community's Integrated Tariff (TARIC) and the issuing of guarantees in the field of transit. In May 2002, the parliament adopted further changes to the customs legislation. The 2003 report notes that the operational and administrative capacity is not yet as well developed as desired, and that serious concerns remain in the area of computerisation and interconnectivity.

Negotiations on this chapter were closed in December 2002. Latvia has not requested any transitional arrangements in this area.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 16.02.2004
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