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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(1997) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1998) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 707 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 July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission considered that Lithuania should be able to transpose the environmental acquis in the medium term. However, it also concluded that effective compliance with some legislation (e.g. on drinking water, certain aspects of waste management and air pollution) could only be achieved in the long term, and would require a significant increase in environmental investment, as well as a major effort to boost administrative capacity.

The November 1998 Report found that Lithuania had made good progress towards meeting the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership, particularly as regards transposition of legislation. However, efforts were still needed in the area of industrial pollution, air and water pollution and radiation protection. Lithuania also needed to concentrate on improving the monitoring infrastructure in the air and water sector and on boosting capacity at local level. Major efforts were still required in order to ensure funding of the necessary investment, in close cooperation with the international financial institutions.

The October 1999 Report noted that Lithuania had substantially complied with the rules of the Accession Partnership in this area. However, the level of formal compliance with EU environmental legislation varied greatly from sector to sector. Lithuania needed to focus on programme implementation, in terms of both transposition and enforcement, and to put additional effort into restructuring its environmental administrative structures.

The November 2000 Report states that Lithuania has continued to make progress particularly as regards transposition. Implementation remains a problem in those sectors requiring significant investment. This is essential in the water and waste sectors and the areas covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive.

The November 2001 Report noted the efforts made by Lithuania to adopt legislation in a number of different fields. There was a very high level of alignment with the acquis and completing implementation therefore posed a challenge, in particular as regards water and waste.

The October 2002 Report indicated progress with alignment and noted that steps had been taken to increase administrative capacity. Transposition had reached a relatively good level, but implementation was not yet fully satisfactory.

The November 2003 Report indicated that Lithuania 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 by the time 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.

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 Lithuanian 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 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. Lithuania has established the legal and organisational structures of civil protection and rescue systems. The Government has approved a new plan for protection of the population in the event of a radiological accident at the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Lithuania ratified the Aarhus Convention in July 2001. A manual on environmental impact assessment requirements has been published. The framework law on environmental protection has been amended, and entered into force in 2002. An information management programme to ensure reporting has been approved.

The water legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent framework acquis on water, which needs to be adopted by the time of accession. In July 2001, legislation was adopted on drinking water. However, drinking water monitoring needs to be enhanced and administrative capacity in this area reinforced. Programmes for dangerous substances need to be finalised and adopted. An order on the protection of water against nitrates has been approved, as has an action plan for the reduction of fluoride in drinking water. However, the fluoride problem still has to be resolved. A transitional arrangement up to December 2009 has been agreed for urban wastewater.

With regard to waste management, transposition of the Community legislation is complete. The Lithuanian regulations are in line with the acquis, except for those on end-of-life vehicles and PCB/PCT, which need to be completed by accession. Implementation needs to be improved by strengthening monitoring bodies and structures, particularly at regional and local level. The preparation of waste management plans and the setting-up of a supervision system for waste shipments need to be completed by 1 May 2004. A permit and deregistration system for end-of-life vehicles also needs to be set up by accession. The establishment of collection systems and recovery and disposal facilities needs to continue. Particular attention needs to be paid to the management of hazardous waste. Transitional arrangements up to December 2006 have been agreed for packaging waste.

In relation to industrial pollution, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on large combustion plants, national emission ceilings and major accident hazards, which needs to be transposed by 1 May 2004. Permits for installations subject to the rules on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) need to continue to be issued. The administrative capacity to issue integrated permits for IPPC installations needs to be stepped up. Transitional arrangements up to 2015 have been agreed for certain large combustion plants.

In air protection, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis. However, the identification of zones and agglomerations where thresholds are exceeded needs to be re-evaluated by accession. As regards monitoring capacity in the air sector, a list of necessary laboratory equipment as well as an investment plan were approved in April 2002. However, air quality monitoring needs to be enhanced. Traffic counters/classifiers for assessment of emissions from cars in cities have been acquired. Transitional arrangements up to December 2007 have been agreed for certain installations in respect of volatile organic compound emissions from the storage and distribution of petrol.

The acquis on chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been transposed. The legislation is in line with the acquis except for the provisions on biocides. Coordination between the organisations involved needs to be further enhanced.

Lithuania is now fully in line with the requirements for the protection of experimental animals.

Regarding nature protection, the legislation is in place and is in line with the acquis, except for implementing legislation on habitats and birds. Further efforts are needed to finalise the preparation of a list of proposed sites of Community interest and the designation of special protection areas. Administrative capacity at local and regional levels needs to be further stepped up. Lithuania has ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). An order has been adopted on the import, export, re-export of wild animals and trade therein.

In relation to radiation protection and nuclear safety, legislative alignment has been completed and the legislation is in line with the acquis. In January 1999 the Seimas (the Lithuanian Parliament) approved a law on radiation safety and in May 1999 it passed a law on the management of radioactive waste. An agency will be responsible for the safe storage of such waste. An agreement on the exchange of radiation monitoring data between countries of the Nordic and Baltic Sea Region has been ratified.

As regards noise, transposition is proceeding according to schedule and the legislation is in line with the acquis, except for the recent acquis on ambient noise, which needs to be adopted by July 2004.

The administrative capacity of the Environment Ministry has been improved. Training programmes for inspectors and for local staff have been developed and implemented.

The cost of full implementation of the environmental acquis is estimated at around EUR 1 billion.

Lithuania 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: 12.02.2004
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