Recent development of environmental law in
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
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
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.
The horizontal measures mostly developed, some minor changes are needed
both in case of EIA and access to information.
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.
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.
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
The air quality framework rules are also under drafting, the present system
resembles to the German rules of the beginning of the eighties.
The noise legislation does not contain the system of product type-approvals,
but there are regulations on the noise protection of zones.
Chemicals legislation has a new act on chemical safety from 2000, and this
is the field which are closest to the existing EU system.
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:
The principles are present, some are listed in the act on the environment.
The system of authorisation or permitting is available, but the necessary
coordination - or integration on the basis of IPPC directive - is missing.
The roles and scope of authorities are not well defined always.
The chance of direct intervention of the authorities into the polluting
activities is very weak, among others because of the indefinite legal grounds
The chances of agreements or cooperative instruments are very weak, again
due to the lack of clear procedural regulations.
There are some elements of economic instruments present, the more developed
is the product fee together with the use of environmental funds.
The BAT-type legislation is mentioned but not used in practice.
Administrative liability is mostly based upon fines, the efficiency is
Civil liability is well developed, no-fault liability is available in case
of damages, but the judicial practice is missing. The new legislation could
provide some aid to the victims - on the one hand presumptions, such as
the presumption of the liability of the landowner; and on the other hand
there is a general background liability of the government to stand for
those costs of reinstatement which may not be covered by anybody else.
The system of financial guarantees are still missing.
The Criminal Code has three specific crimes for the environment, with limited
If we examine the system of administrative authorities than still it is
hard to define the role of local governments. For example, the new waste
act could clarify their function in waste management, but the details are