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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 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) 1750 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1406 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1204 - 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 felt that Lithuania had made significant progress in a number of fields. Further efforts were, however, needed in the areas of aligning technical legislation, standardisation and conformity assessment, price liberalisation and licensing. Assuming these efforts were sustained and technical know-how updated, the Commission saw no reason why free movement of goods should not be achieved in the medium term. It also called on the Lithuanian authorities to make sure, in areas not covered by Community harmonisation, that national laws did not hamper trade. In particular, they were to check that measures were proportionate to their objectives.

The Report of November 1998 recorded little progress, especially towards aligning Lithuanian legislation in areas covered by New Approach directives. The infrastructure required for the New Approach was, however, in place.

In the 1999 Report, the Commission noted mixed progress in standardisation. Although laws on conformity assessment and product safety had been adopted and transposition of European standards was continuing, further efforts were needed in a number of areas: alignment of basic legislation on standardisation, organisation of market surveillance, transposition of the New Approach directives and coordination between the bodies responsible for adopting and implementing the legislation.

In its November 2000 Report, the Commission noted that Lithuania had made steady progress in the areas of the free movement of goods and customs union.

The November 2001 Report noted that Lithuania had made progress on standardisation and market surveillance, but that the adoption of European harmonised standards should be accelerated. Lithuania had made good progress in aligning its legislation with the acquis on customs union.

The October 2002 Report highlighted steady progress in both of these areas.

In its November 2003 Report, the Commission considers that Lithuania is generally meeting the requirements of the acquis.
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

The Lithuanian parliament adopted a law setting out the basic principles of the conformity assessment system in October 1998. Transposition of harmonised European standards has continued although the basic legislation still needs to be aligned. In February 2001, the Lithuanian Government approved the Programme on Conformity Assessment Infrastructure Development. Lithuania also accelerated the adoption of standards.

Lithuania had already set up the infrastructure needed for the implementation of the New Approach (standardisation bodies, certification bodies and conformity assessment bodies, test laboratories and market surveillance authorities). It had also separated the functions of various institutions. It should, however, continue its efforts to strengthen these institutions, and in particular their powers. It should also increase Lithuanian industry's technical and financial involvement in standardisation activities in order to free the Lithuanian Standards Office from its dependence on public funding. As regards the development of the administrative capacity for the implementation of horizontal and procedural measures and sector-specific legislation, progress was made in 2001 in strengthening the institutional framework.

Lithuania had also introduced a stronger system of market surveillance to counter fraud. The Law on Product Safety adopted in June 1999 covers some aspects of market surveillance, but further efforts are needed in relation to the general sectoral approach. The Law on Product Safety entered into force in January 2000 and the Law on Standardisation was adopted by the Lithuanian Parliament in April 2000.

The 2003 report notes that the implementation structures for metrology, accreditation, conformity assessment and market surveillance are all in place but need to be strengthened.

In the matter of New Approach directives, progress has been made since 1998 in establishing the general framework for the New Approach and Global Approach and adopting a compulsory certification procedure for electrical appliances and electronic equipment. The 2002 report notes that in the field of standardisation, the rate of implementation of European standards has increased. In 2003, the Commission notes that Lithuania has transposed all the acquis of the sectoral legislation under the New Approach.

As for the Old Approach directives, progress has been made in aligning legislation on foodstuffs, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and footwear. In 2003, the Commission noted that the transposition of the "Old Approach" directives made good progress without encountering specific problems, although transposition is not yet completed in the fields of cosmetics and motor vehicles. Transposition of pharmaceuticals legislation has virtually been completed.

In 2002, Lithuania made further progress as regards the legislation on food safety and foodstuffs. The 2003 report notes that further attention is required as regards strengthening inter-institutional cooperation in this field.

In the non-harmonised sector, Lithuania adopted an action programme in June 2001. This programme provides for the elimination of import licensing obligations for alcohol, tobacco and oil products by the second quarter of 2003, and the transposition of the principle of mutual recognition by the fourth quarter of 2003.

Amendments to the Law on Public Procurement were adopted in May 2002, thus bringing Lithuania's legislation closer to the acquis in this area. The 2003 report notes that some minor details still need to be cleared up.

Negotiations on the chapter on the free movement of goods are closed. Transitional arrangements have been granted until 1 January 2007 for the renewal of marketing authorisations for pharmaceuticals.

As regards alignment with the customs unionacquis, several pieces of implementing legislation have been adopted, ensuring further alignment with the Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions, and the combined nomenclature of goods. The alignment with the acquis is progressing at a satisfactory pace and is near its completion. The 2002 report notes that the current provisions of the Lithuania Customs Code are largely in line with the provisions of the EC Customs Code. The 2003 report calls for enhanced measures which need to be taken to complete the development and implementation of the computerised customs system and to solve interconnectivity-related issues.

The negotiations on the customs union chapter are closed. Lithuania has not requested any transitional arrangements.

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

Last updated: 23.02.2004
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