Recent development of environmental law in Hungary

Gyula Bándi


1995 can be taken as an important milestone in the development of Hungarian environmental law. This was the year of adopting a framework environmental act - following the first environmental act from 1976, which was just a brief summary of selected issues. The Act LIII of 1995 listed several other topics of legislation, from mining to nature conservation. Of course the quite comprehensive list could also mean a much bigger list of implementing regulations.

Of course, nothing lasts long, thus the seemingly active legislative development of the middle nineties also did not last too long. The worst of legislative history of the past five years was between 1998 and the middle of 2000, in which period nothing important happened. From among the list of the environmental act, several pieces could anyhow be adopted, but still a lot is missing, and it is even more the case for the implementing regulations.

The major purpose of recent legal development is to transpose EC legislation into the Hungarian legal system, on the basis of European Agreements. Therefore we may look at this development from approximation point of view.

  1. The horizontal measures mostly developed, some minor changes are needed both in case of EIA and access to information.
  2. In the field of industrial risks, the situation is much more complex. The Seveso-tpye legislation appears but far from being developed. The same is true for risk assessment in general. The IPPC directive is a priority issue, although there is no real chance for the transposition in a short term and even less for implementing the requirements. The eco-label awards system is available and the EMAS regulations at the moment are under consideration.
  3. Waste management still needs a lot of work. The framework waste law has been adopted in 2000, but most of the implementing regulations are under development. The only exception is the hazardous waste, where there are several similarities with the EU system, although this also needs improvement.
  4. Water legislation is also under development. In 2000 the groundwater rules have been adopted, but the implementation is very difficult. All the other fields are under drafting, although the management of water resources is relatively well-developed.
  5. The air quality framework rules are also under drafting, the present system resembles to the German rules of the beginning of the eighties.
  6. The noise legislation does not contain the system of product type-approvals, but there are regulations on the noise protection of zones.
  7. Chemicals legislation has a new act on chemical safety from 2000, and this is the field which are closest to the existing EU system.
  8. Finally in nature conservation legislation we have the most developed system, and the least to do.
If we look at the above list, then it is clear that a lot has already been done, but also a lot has to be done. According to official estimates, we are still around 60-65 % of implementing EU legislation.

Looking at the same development from a domestic legislative point of view, there are also good signs, but again we may not be optimistic. Next I will look at the legal development from the perspective of legal instruments:

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