Are you sure?

EC environmental review notes progress, but more needed

In its latest Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) for Hungary released last Friday, the European Commission (EC) says the country has made "some progress" in implementing European Union environmental policy in the areas of waste management and air quality, but urges more action.

"[Hungary] has made significant progress in decoupling its strong economic growth from the main environmental pressures," reads a factsheet summary of the EIR. However, the review stresses, "intensive industrial and agricultural activities and an increase in road traffic have exacerbated environmental challenges while important institutional issues impede more effective implementation of environmental laws and policies."

The EC review notes a "slight increase" in the municipal waste recycling rate, paired with a "slight decrease" in the landfilling rate, and acknowledges "some major reforms" recently introduced in the waste sector. At the same time, it says it has already warned that Hungary is at risk of missing its 2020 municipal waste recycling target of 50%.

The EC also acknowledges "a steady decrease" in emissions in Hungary, but adds that additional efforts are needed to meet targets for 2020-2029. Hungary has failed to meet EU air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, it notes.

Last May, the EC stepped up an infringement procedure against Hungary concerning air quality, referring the country to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

The review cites the European Environment Agency (EEA) as saying that air pollution was responsible for about 14,600 premature deaths in Hungary in 2015, and points to the urgent need to reduce particle emissions from burning solid fuel in households, and to introduce short-term measures to reduce car emissions in urban areas.

The EIR observes that Hungary has "just started" to prepare a national circular economy action plan, which is challenged by a "lack of institutional coordination" and a "lack of dedicated funding."

The factsheet summary of the latest Environmental Implementation Review for Hungary can be read here.