Belgian-Hungarian Phare coorporation (Twinning): development of a waste information system and regional waste management plans

1. Situation

At the beginning of the 21st century, the expansion of the EU to the East is one of the major challenges of the European Union.

Hungary is one of the 10 countries in Central Europe that has signed the Accession Treaty with the European Union. The accession requires a lot of preparation from the candidate countries, and certainly also with respect to the environment.

The European Union assists these candidate countries during the accession process and provides financial support through for example, the Phare programme, the main focus of which was institutional capacity building during the last years, amongst others in the environmental sector.
The present cooperation (Twinning) is part of the Phare programme and its goal is to assist the candidate member states in the implementation of EU legislation and the improvement of institutional and governmental structures, on the basis of the knowledge and know-how of the member states. The basis for this cooperation is the posting of a Pre-Accession Adviser (PAA) to the institutions of the candidate member states, responsible for the implementation of EU legislation.

Twinning team

2. Belgian-Hungarian Cooperation (Twinning)

In May 2000, within the scope of the afore-mentioned Phare programme, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) submitted a proposal to the EU for the development of a waste information system in support of regional waste planning. After comparison of the project proposal submitted by OVAM with other project proposals from similar organisations in France, Germany and Austria, the Hungarian Ministry for the Environment has chosen OVAM to assist them in the development of a waste information system and to stimulate the waste planning process within the scope of the accession of Hungary to the European Union. We are therefore proud to announce that for the very first time, a European Phare twinning programme will be implemented by a Belgian institution. The objectives and scope of the project were clearly defined in the agreement between OVAM and the Hungarian Ministry for the Environment. It involved the development of a waste information system, in accordance with EU regulations and the establishment of guidelines for the preparation of regional waste plans, in accordance with the Hungarian National Waste Plan and EU legislation.

The project was launched on August 27th 2001, its completion will take 18 months and it is directed by Wilfried De Nijs.
A team of OVAM experts such as Guy Haemels, Luc Vanacker, Karina De Beule, Anne Vandeputte, Jan Vermoesen, Mike Van Acoleyen, Johan Vanerom, Dave Van Hasselt, Lore Mariën, Else Verstraete, Geert De Roover, Els De Picker, Marc Adams, Peter De Bruyne and Luk Umans works on the various project aspects, each in his or her own field of expertise. The Pre-Accession Adviser, Kris De Craene, was permanently posted to the Hungarian Ministry for the Environment and supports and coordinates the implementation of the project on site, together with the Hungarian project manager.

3. Results

During the past 18 months, the following was achieved:

  • A plan was drawn up, describing the waste information to be collected, the person who will supply this information in the future, the person responsible for the organisation, processing and management of the supplied information and the way in which this will be done.
  • The actual implementation of the afore-mentioned plan was started, whereby the development of the required legislation with regard to waste planning and waste information management in Hungary was supported by OVAM experts, who also assisted in the preparations for the purchase of software and hardware.
  • The drafting of a guideline manual, to support and coordinate the regional waste plans and drawn up in consultation with the Hungarian Regional Environmental Inspectorates. The guideline manual is divided in two parts. Part I is focused on waste data gathering and the analysis of the current situation of waste collection and treatment. Part II is focused on actions and instruments that could be used to achieve the national objectives and the implementation of the national strategy. Part II contains also some background information build up on experiences in Flandres and will give ideas and inspirations for the preparation of waste management plan and waste management systems in the several regions. The OVAM experts help to steer the planning process by several training sessions in Budapest or on the spot in the Inspectorates.
  • Two study trips to Flanders were organised, whereby an Hungarian team of some ten people was introduced to waste management practices and methods and the collection, management and processing of waste data in Flanders. The main focus of the first study trip was waste information management. The second study trip was intended for the people in charge of waste planning in the 7 Environmental Inspectorates. After a theoretical session at the offices of OVAM, the theory was field-tested during visits to waste collection and sorting centres, container parks and incineration plants. A visit to the Indaver industrial waste processing installation in Antwerp clearly illustrated the integrated approach of Flanders with regard to hazardous waste.
  • July 02 OVAM experts, the PAA and the Hungarian project manager visited the 7 Environmental Inspectorates. The objective was to exchange ideas with the respective planning managers on site on the composition of the planning team and waste planning, taking into account the specific characteristics of each Environmental Inspectorate. By actually evaluating the situation on site, openness was created towards the respective planning managers and their teams, resulting in an extremely easy and spontaneous exchange of information and experience. A second training tour, focused on the second phase of the planning, was organised in April 03.

The following months, OVAM continued to put its expertise at the disposal of Hungarian officials, to give further shape to the waste information system and to further stimulate and support the waste planning process.

The Hungarian Ministry for the Environment was very pleased with the results and therefore requested to further expand the project scope. In October 02 the Twinning project has been extended with several key issues concerning the im- and export of waste materials streams, the treatment of animal waste and packaging waste.

On July 11 a closing seminar has been organised where the main conclusions and results has been presented as well as the possibilities for further co-operation.

4. General conclusions

The relation between both Twinning partners has evolved gradually. The distance which existed between both partners at the beginning of the project has disappeared and both partners have come to a good understanding. With some flexibility, both partners managed to integrate the project well into what was going on with the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water. This was one of the keys to the success of the project.

The guaranteed results that were agreed in the Twinning convenant have been obtained.

A lot of information, experience and know-how has been exchanged. Established contacts will be useful for the further co-operation and networking.

The next challenge will be the implementation. We have to stop the project at the threshold of the implementation. These requires a number of institutional aspects such as the necessary staff. To solve this problem OVAM has supplied a methodology.

For the OVAM experts it was an enlightening experience: the introduction to a country that may soon sit around the EU table, the broadening of the day-to-day activities within OVAM to a wider European perspective and the gaining of insights into the operation of a candidate member state such as Hungary, are invaluable elements.