Legal situation

© Carlo Schrodt /

In order to protect human health and the environment, the Council of the European Union drew up a directive with air quality standards in April 1999. The Hungarian government transposed the European Air Quality Directive into national law by 11 June 2011. Before this the Commission sent a reasoned opinion, because the legislation was not adopted in Hungary by 11 June 2010. The Directive establishes limit values for pollutant concentration in order to maintain the air quality. Accordingly, the limit value for particulate matter was set at 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which may be exceeded on a maximum of 35 days a year. The average annual value for nitrogen dioxide was set at 40 µg/m³. The EU Directive obliges cities and municipalities to draw up action plans for air pollution control. The Regional Inspectorates for Environment, Nature and Water is responsible for preparing and controlling air quality plans. Air quality plans were prepared in 2005 for each zone and agglomeration in which limit values are exceeded. In 2008 the plans have been amended, because of breaches of limit values. The plans contains a list and description of measures, a timetable for implementation of those measures and an estimate of the improvement of air quality. Because of a lack of political will not all measures have been implemented according to the timetable. In addition the public had no effective opportunity to participate in the formulation of these plans. Mostly because of the lack of an adequate information.

The Administrative law allows clients to participate in an administrative procedure. Environmental NGOs  are entitled to take part in environmental administrative procedures as clients. In addition, if a certain project has an impact area, those who live in that area can act as clients as well. In addition the Hungarian Environmental Law entitles the NGOs  operating in the field of environmental protection to appeal to the court in order to prohibit activities causing environmental pollution. Residents concerned can appeal to the municipal notary or to the court against anybody who violates their property e.g. by polluting the environment (property protection). Individuals concerned can also appeal to the court for compensation if they have suffered material or immaterial damages.