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Beginning on 1 July 2013, Croatia will officially become an EU Member State. The second half of this year and 2014 will be a period of introducing a significant number of EU harmonized legal requirements in essentially all environment, health and safety (EHS) areas.
Croatia has already established a good basis by implementing some of the key requirements from a number of EHS-relevant EU Directives and Regulations, but gaps remain. Moreover, the overall amount of Acts to be transposed is extensive. There are over 200 EU Environmental Acts alone that a new Member State must transpose into their legislation (Environmental Acquis communautaire). The Croatian Parliament has adopted an ambitious plan to close these gaps by drafting and proposing a significant number of amended and new Acts throughout 2013. After coming into force in 2013 and 2014, these Acts will be shortly followed by daughter regulations intended to set specific, new, or modified requirements for employers, facility operators, product manufacturers and distributors.
By the end of April 2013 some of these laws have already been adopted, such as those on chemicals and biocides management. Others are still in the consultation/drafting stage. Below we will highlight a few of the new requirements the adopted and forthcoming laws will impose.
In February 2013, the government adopted the new Act on chemicals and two separate Acts defining ways of implementing two relevant EU Regulations. All three Acts will enter into force on 1 July 2013. The new Act on chemicals sets the legal basis for more clearly defined responsibilities of companies manufacturing, selling or using chemicals in the area of testing, classification, labeling and packaging of chemicals, warning about hazardous properties of chemicals, providing instructions for safe use for handling chemicals, and paying for damage caused by chemicals.
Another area that will see significant changes is testing the knowledge of workers and responsible persons on the protection from hazardous chemicals. These stricter, new requirements will be further specified in forthcoming daughter regulations, which must be enacted by 1 October 2013.
In April this year, the government adopted the implementation Act of the EU Regulation on distribution and use of biocidal products entering into force on 1 September 2013. The current Croatian Act on biocides from 2007 is not intended to be replaced with a new one, as these two Acts provide sufficient legal basis for the implementation of all relevant EU Directives and Regulations. The main changes in the biocides management regime between 1 and 30 September 2013, and subject to enactment of three daughter regulations, will relate to the regime of approving active substances in biocides at EU level, and authorizing biocidal products at EU and national level.
Occupational Health and Safety
A draft on a new Act on occupational health and safety (OHS) is in preparation. Along with introducing explicit references to relevant EU Directives and Regulations not covered in the current Act (and requiring a set of daughter regulations for full harmonization), it will introduce the principle that the employer must bear all OHS costs. Furthermore, the employer’s OHS responsible persons will be subject to more rigorous and frequent exams for obtaining licenses. The new Act will also introduce a national system for collection and processing information on occupational diseases and injuries. The intention is to have the Act in force by 1 January 2014.
Another four OHS relevant Acts envisaged to be drafted and proposed in the second half of 2013 are:
• The labor Act;
• Act on professional rehabilitation and employing persons with disabilities;
• Act on employing at temporary and part-time jobs;
• Act on categorization of jobs according to their harms and impacts to physical and psychological condition of workers.
These Acts will set new and/or more precise and stringent obligations compared to those set in the current labor Act and OHS Act.
The Croatian Parliament’s plan of harmonization with EU legislation also foresees a significant number of other EHS relevant and potentially relevant Acts to be drafted and proposed in 2013 and adopted this year or 2014. These Acts fall within the following areas:
• Environmental protection and nature protection
• Waste management, water management and water safety
• Air quality, noise, radiological and nuclear safety
• Critical infrastructures (industrial accidents)
• Oil and gas, mining, energy, and energy efficiency of products, facilities and buildings
New or amended Acts are also predicted for the following areas:
• Consumer protection, products conformity assessment and technical requirements
• Medicinal and veterinary products
• Cosmetic products, detergents, drug precursors
In the second half of 2013 and throughout 2014 we will witness a tremendous number of new or modified legal EHS requirements in Croatia. These changes will affect all types of employers, facility operators and product manufacturers and distributors. In addition, from the day of entry into the EU, the Croatian Government will have to step up the actual implementation of the requirements that are already in place, in order to avoid infringement procedures by the European Commission. This means that operators will be forced to obtain all remaining relevant permits and licenses, comply with conditions set in these permits, and face tougher inspections. This in turn will require changes in operation, additional costs, and better awareness of changing requirements. The best way to keep up with these changes is to follow Enhesa’s monthly monitoring reports that contain a regulatory analysis of EU and country-specific issues. For further information, contact Enhesa at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
– Dusan Sevic, EHS Regulatory Consultant