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The history of the accession program

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Special: Agenda 2000: Will it increase nuclear safety in Eastern Europe?

(June 19, 1998) In the 1993 Copenhagen European Council, it was decided that Central and Eastern Europe Countries (CEEC) could become members of the European Union, as soon as they were able to assume the obligations of membership.
All CEEC, including the Baltic states, declared their interest and at the Essen Council (Germany 1994), a strategy was outlined to prepare the countries for accession. The PHARE program, which was established in 1989, was transformed into one of the instruments for this preaccession strategy.

So-called Europe Agreements were developed with all the CEE countries.
In July 1997 the European Commission published the "Agenda 2000 - For a stronger and wider Union" (including detailed opinions on the membership applications of 10 CEE countries) which was the proposed approach for enlargement. In December 1997 in Luxembourg the European Council took the decisions needed to launch the enlargement process. It was decided (although the European Parliament wanted otherwise) that there would be two waves of accession and to start bilateral intergovernmental conferences only with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia (and Cyprus).

The Accession Criteria
The criteria, as a precondition for accession to the European Union, are:

  • institutional stability as a guarantee for democracy and respect for general principles of law (covering human rights as well as protection of minorities);
  • a functioning market economy, able to resist the pressure of concurrence in the internal market;
  • adaption of the Acquis as well as the political, economic and monetary aims of the Union.

The acquis communautaire includes the directives, regulations and decisions adopted on the basis of the various treaties which together make up the primary law of the EU. It is the term used to describe all the principles, policies, laws and objectives that have been agreed to by the EU. It includes all the treaties, all Community legislation, all the principles of law and interpretations of the European Court of Justice, and all international agreements signed by the EC as interpreted by the declarations and solutions of the Council. So it goes much farther than the simple EU legislation. Acceding countries need to comply with the spirit as well as with the letter of EU legislation.

Key Legislation in the Acquis on nuclear safety
The legislation, European Union directives and regulations on nuclear issues that form the environmental acquis as of July 1, 1997, are divided into two parts:

  1. White Paper legislation, which is the environmental legislation covered by the European Commission's "White Paper on Preparation of the Associated Countries of Central and Eastern Europe for Integration into the Internal Market of the Union", COM (95) 163 final.
  2. Non-White Paper legislation, the legislation not covered by the 1995 White Paper

Each part is then further subdivided as required into directives and regulations indicating amendments and subsidiary implementing legislation.

Non-White Paper legislation:
Radiation protection of general public and workers; 80/836/Euratom, Amended by 84/467/Euratom
Radiation protection of patients; 84/466/Euratom, amended by 97/43/Euratom
Early exchange of information in case of a radiological emergency; 87/600/Euratom
Information of the public; 89/618/Euratom
Radiation protection of outside workers; 90/641/Euratom
White Paper legislation:
Shipments of radioactive waste; 92/3/Euratom, supplemented by 93/552/Euratom
Basis Safety Standards; 96/29/Euratom
Maximum permitted levels of radioactive contamination of foodstuffs following a radiological emergency; 87/395/Euratom, Supplemented by 770/90/Euratom, 219/89/Euratom, 944/89/Euratom
Imports of agricultural products following the Chernobyl Accident; 90/737 CEE, amended by 94/3034/EEC and 95/686/EC
Shipments of radioactive substances; 93/1493/Euratom

A Directive is a legal instrument by which the Council or Commission can require member-states to amend or adopt national legislation by a specified deadline in order to achieve the aims set out in the directive.
A Regulation is the strongest form of Community legislation. It has general application, is binding in its entirely and is directly applicable in all memberstates.
A White Paper is an official set of proposals in a particular policy area.