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Estonia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2006 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(99) 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]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the Commission expressed the view that, given the reforms undertaken with regard to the environment and the relatively high investment levels in this sector, if major efforts were made to develop legislation enforcement structures, Estonia should be able to fully transpose the environmental acquis and make substantial progress towards effective compliance in the medium term. However, conformity with a number of pieces of legislation requiring a sustained, high level of investment and considerable administrative effort (e.g. urban waste water treatment, drinking water, aspects of waste management and air pollution legislation) could be achieved only in the long term.
The November 1998 Report confirmed that Estonia had made progress towards meeting the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership, in particular with regard to the transposition of the acquis in waste management and nature conservation. Estonia needed nevertheless to continue its efforts to transpose the rest of the legislation, and pay more attention to financing strategies.
The October 1999 Report noted that legal transposition of directives had continued, though the level of compliance differed from sector to sector. Administrative structures remain weak and efforts to strengthen them were necessary. A financing plan for implementation of the acquis was also required.
The November 2000 Report stated that Estonia had made good progress on the transposition and application of the framework legislation, although efforts had to continue to ensure that this is applied and observed, particularly at regional level. Financing plans for environmental investment also had to be drawn up.
The November 2001 Report noted that Estonia had been continuing with alignment on and implementation of the acquis, though problems still remained, especially as regards waste and water management.
The October 2002 Report indicated that Estonia had made good legislative progress through the adoption of several framework laws. Some progress had also been made in developing administrative capacity. However, further development was needed. Transposition needed to be completed in the areas of air quality, nature protection and radiation protection.
The November 2003 Report notes that Estonia is essentially meeting the environmental commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations (concluded in December 2002) and is expected to be in a position 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.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

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 Estonian 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.

EVALUATION

The National Environmental Action Plan provides for integration of the environment into other policies.

Regarding horizontal legislation, Estonia has aligned with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on strategic environmental impact assessment. The Estonian Parliament adopted the Kyoto Protocol in September 2002. The Parliament has also approved the Act of Accession to the Convention on environmental impact assessment. Estonia has signed an agreement with Finland on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. In June 2001, it ratified the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. The secondary legislation in the field of environmental information has been adopted. As regards civil protection, an emergency number has been set up.

The legislation is not yet fully in place in the area of water quality. Regulations still need to be adopted in relation to discharges of dangerous substances, groundwater and the recent water framework legislation. Programmes relating to nitrates and dangerous substances need to be adopted by the time Estonia joins the Union. Close attention needs to be paid to implementation of the drinking water legislation, and the problem of fluoride needs to be resolved. The Estonian legislation transposing the bathing water directive entered into force in April 2001. Attention needs to be paid to administrative capacity in the area of water quality. Transitional arrangements have been agreed for urban waste water and drinking water (until 2010 and 2013, respectively).

As regards waste management, the acquis has not yet been fully transposed. Legislation is still required on waste and packaging. Transposition of the recent acquis on end-of-life vehicles also needs to be completed. Certain regional and local waste management programmes need to be improved. Implementing regulations on hazardous waste, on the list of waste for recycling and disposal, packaging, excise duties on packaging and the Basle Convention have been adopted. Progress continues on the setting up of the network of waste elimination plants. Waste disposal sites have been put into operation or reconstructed. Two regulations have been adopted on the manufacture of packaging and metal waste. Other regulations have been adopted regarding asbestos waste, waste reporting, the national packaging information system, shipment of waste, hazardous waste and the EC waste catalogue. Administrative capacity in this area needs to be stepped up at regional and central level. As regards landfill of waste, a transitional arrangement lasting until 2009 has been agreed for oil shale.

In the field of industrial pollution control and risk management, two governmental regulations have been adopted, transposing a substantial part of the Seveso II Directive. All the requirements concerning new large combustion plants have also been transposed. Estonia has identified the plants covered by the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) Directive. The IPPC Act was adopted in May 2002 and the law on emergency preparedness was adopted in November 2000.

In the field of industrial pollution control and risk management, transposition of the acquis has yet to be completed. The Ambient Air Protection Act needs to be amended. Implementing legislation is still needed regarding volatile organic compound emissions from solvents, incineration of waste, large combustion plants and national emission ceilings. These need to be adopted by the time Estonia joins the Union on 1 May 2004. Two governmental regulations have been adopted, transposing a substantial part of the Seveso II Directive. Estonia has identified the plants covered by the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) Directive. Permits need to be issued to the relevant installations, both new and existing, and the administrative capacity to issue these permits before 1 May 2004 needs to be strengthened. A transitional arrangement (until December 2015) has been agreed for certain installations. The IPPC Act was adopted in May 2002 and the law on emergency preparedness was adopted in November 2000.

In the field of air quality, the acquis has not yet been fully transposed. The Ambient Air Protection Act and other legislation need to be amended to bring them into line with the air quality directives. An effort needs to be made before the country joins the Union to complete air quality plans and programmes. The Pollution Charges Act establishes emission rates and charges for atmospheric pollutants. Estonia has acceded to the Geneva Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution and three of its protocols. In January 1999 Estonia ratified the London and Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol. Regulations concerning emission levels in relation to non-road mobile machinery and in the production and processing of cellulose, cement and timber were approved in 2002. A transitional arrangement (until December 2006) has been agreed for emissions of volatile organic compounds from the storage and distribution of petrol.

In the field of chemicals, the legislation has been transposed and is in line with the acquis, except for the biocides acquis. Estonia already has the legal framework for evaluation and control of the risks of existing substances. Several government regulations have been adopted on procedures for labelling, packaging, classification, identification and notification. The Estonian regulation on the import and export of certain hazardous substances is now largely in compliance. The regulation on the handling of hazardous chemical substances entered into force in July 2001.

With regard to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the legislation has been transposed and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs, which needs to be adopted by 1 May 2004. The Act on the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Organisms has been adopted and was amended in February 2001, and the Act on their contained use has been passed in the Parliament. Implementing Regulations relating to GMOs have been adopted. A genetic engineering committee has been set up to issue licences for the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment and the marketing of such organisms.

In relation to radiation protection and nuclear safety, some parts of the acquis are still lacking. A new act on radiation protection needs to be adopted. A number of implementing regulations are required on basic safety standards, outside workers, shipments of radioactive waste, information on emergencies and medical exposure.

The issue of nuclear safety is dealt with in the " Energy " section.

In the field of nature protection, a new nature protection act needs to be adopted. The list of proposed sites of Community interest and the list of special protection areas need to be finalised before Estonia joins the Union on 1 May 2004. The requisite protection measures also need to be applied by that date. In May 2001, amended legislation on protected natural sites was passed. It was amended in December 2001, bringing it further into line with the Habitats Directive. The national programme to implement Natura 2000 was approved in July 2000. European hunting requirements have been transposed. Administrative capacity at various levels needs to be further strengthened. A derogation has been agreed as regards strict protection of lynxes.

In the field of nature protection, Estonia has adopted the Protection and Use of Wild Fauna Act (partially transposing the provisions concerning trade in protected species), the Forest Acts and several implementing governmental regulations In May 2001, amended legislation on protected natural sites was passed. It was amended in December 2001, bringing it further into line with the Habitats Directive. The national programme to implement Natura 2000 was approved in July 2000 and implemented during the course of 2001 and 2002. EC hunting requirements have been transposed.

The National Environmental Action Programme estimates that the alignment of Estonian legislation on the acquis will have cost Estonia a total of EUR 2.21 billion by 2010. Attention also needs to be paid to future financing strategies. Close cooperation should be developed with International Financial Institutions in this regard.

Transposition of the acquis on noise emissions is proceeding according to schedule, and the legislation is in line with the acquis. Transposition of the acquis on noise from outdoor equipment needs to be completed by 1 May 2004 and the recent acquis on ambient noise needs to be transposed by July 2004

Estonia is participating in the European Environment Agency and the European Environment Information and Observation Network.

Negotiations on this chapter have been closed.

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

 
Last updated: 09.02.2004
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