CAROLINE JACKSON - Voorzitter EP-commissie Leefmilieu
Dear Ms Wallström,
I am writing to you concerning the matter that I raised with you the other day, namely the issue of the candidate countries and the developing environmental acquis. Since the negotiations on the environment chapter have been provisionally closed with all applicant countries except Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, a number of important new measures have been, or are being, adopted at European Union level, of which the most recent example is the Directive on Electronic Waste. I would greatly appreciate some clarifications as to how these developments are being taken account of, both by the candidate countries themselves and also by the Commission in your dealings with them.
On the one side, how closely are the candidate countries monitoring the adoption of this new legislation and the consequences for their economies? Are they seeking any new transition periods and, where they are not, how are they planning to ensure that they can meet their likely forthcoming obligations under the new legislation?
On the other side, how is the Commission currently drawing these developments, and their likely implications, to the attention of the candidate countries? Does the Commission teel that some new transition periods will be required and, where these are not being sought by the candidate countries themselves, does it feel that they are being realistic in their assessment of their capacity to comply?
I am sure that we all share the objective of ensuring that enlargement is as successful as possible, both for the candidate countries and for the European Union as a whole, and I believe that the above questions are important in this context. I would greatly appreciate, therefore, any guidance that you can give me on them.
MARGOT WALLSTRÖM - Europees Commissaris voor Leefmilieu
Dear Mrs Jackson,
Thank you for your letter of 24th October 2002 conceming the implications of new environmental legislation for candidate countries in the run-up to accession.
Firstly, as far as the formal inclusion of new legislation in the accession negotiations is concerned, the Commission's enlargement strategy paper of 9th October (COM (2002) 700), proposed to set lth November 2002 as the cut-offdate for the scope of the negotiations for inclusion in the Accession Treaties. The Commission has asked the candidate countries to transmit by mid November their positions on the 2002 legislation adopted and published up until 1th November 2002. Already, earlier this year, the Commission transmitted a list of all legislation adopted in the first six months of 2002 and asked candidate countries to take position. As far as the environment chapter is concemed, if Commission implementing decisions are excluded, the number of acts adopted up to 1th November 2002 is limited and includes the following:
- Ozone in the Ambient Air Directive (2002/3/EC)
- Assessment of Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC)
- Regulations on protection of forests against atmospheric pollution (804/2002) and fire (805/2002)
- Decision laying down adoption of the Sixth Community Environmental Action Programme (1600/2002/EC)
- Decision on 4th amendment to Montreal Protocol (2002/215/EC)
So far eight countries (including Bulgaria and Romania) have formally submitted their position on the acquis adopted and published in the first semester of 2002. No transition periods are being requested but one country (Poland) has expressed a reservation about the amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The remaining tour countries (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) have not yet taken a position.
The procedure to be followed for legislation adopted after the cut-off date and before accession is also outlined in the strategy paper. It indicates that the Accession Treaty will include provisions for dealing with this legislation. The precise details are still being discussed with the Council and are likely to be similar to those followed for the previous enlargement. The emerging environment legislation, such as the Electronic Waste directive, would, therefore, most likely be dealt with under these provisions.
You also ask how the candidate countries are informed of the development in new legislation and whether additional transition periods are necessary. Early consultation of candidate countries on new proposals has been the practice of DG Environment for some time now including the invitation to specific consultation meetings, committee meetings and werking groups in Brussels. Furthermore, as of January 2002, candidate countries are invited as full members to the Environment Policy Review Group meetings, which brings together Director-Generals for Environment. Amongst the tasks of this group is early discussion of future environment policy proposals. Once legislative proposals are discussed in Council and Parliament, the Commission services and Presidency regularly inform the environment attachés from candidate country missions in Brussels of the progress of the discussions. At some stage, possibly after the conclusion of the accession negotiations, the provision of information and of the texts of legislative proposals at all stages of adoption will become a formal requirement, probably on the basis of an agreement with the candidate countries in the form of an exchange of letters.
After signature of the Accession Treaties, there will be much greater involvement of the acceding countries in the decision-shaping process. The different institutions still need to decide on the precise modalities. For its part, the Commission in the enlargement strategy has indicated that the acceding countries should be able to participate as observers in all committees set up under the comitology procedure and all other committees.
With regards to possible transition requests for future environmental legislation, so far there have only been very informal discussions at the technical level. Several countries have indicated that it would probably be necessary to request transition periods for the forthcoming revised Packaging Waste Directive. As nearly all the countries have negotiated a transition period for certain aspects of the existing directive, such requests for the future revision are understandable. Once this directive and others such as the Electronic Waste Directive have been formally adopted, the Commission, in line with past practice, will organise information meetings for candidate countries to explain the details and request information on the implementation steps to be taken in the countries. The Accession Treaty will probably provide a legal basis and a procedure for dealing with such requests for transition periods.
As you have also seen in the enlargement strategy, the Commission will continue to monitor closely implementation of the commitments made by the candidate countries in the accession negotiations leading to a comprehensive Monitoring Report six months before accession.
I hope that this information is helpful. As agreed earlier with you and the members of the Environment Committee Group on enlargement, DG Environment will continue to send you a regular update on the progress made in the accession negotiations for environment including the situation for new legislation.
Margot Wallström - (8/12/2002)