Hungary country briefing - The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Briefing Published 18 Feb 2015 Last modified 11 May 2020
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Main themes and sectors addressed in the national State of Environment report

Considering international requirements [1][2], the annual report on the state of the environment (SoER) is stipulated by Act LIII of 1995 [3]. The SoER[4] is compiled by the government body responsible for the environmental protection (as of 2013 the Ministry of Rural Development, in co-operation with the National Institute for Environment) and aims to inform the Government and the general public.

The latest report, published in 2013, deals with environmental topics such as climate change, diversity of nature, waste management, environmental pollution in connection with health and quality of life, environmental management issues, environmental challenges for Hungary and Europe. The report uses roughly 100 indicators arranged by the EEA's DPSIR (driving forces–pressures–state–impact–responses) model.

Complementing the SoER, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office publishes environmental snapshots[5] bi-annually and regularly updates national environmental statistics[6] on the internet.

Key findings of the State of Environment report 

There has been a decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activities (since the late 1990s) and from households (since 2006). In 2011, 82% of GHG emissions came directly from economic activity. From 2000 to 2011, N2O emissions from the economy decreased by 22%, CH4 emissions by 17%. Meanwhile CO2 emissions increased until 2005 then started to decrease. An increase in HFC emissions has almost stopped in part because they are replaced by other gas mixtures.

Some of the air pollutants from national economy are still causing environmental problems. Emissions of acidifying substances have drastically decreased from 2000 to 2011 (by 65%) primarily due to the use of SO2 abatement methods. Ammonia and nitrogen-oxide emissions have become the most significant factors of acidification. NOX concentrations have exceeded health limit values several times over in certain areas.

Emissions of ozone precursors decreased from 2000 to 2011 (by 31%); PM10 emissions halved while PM2.5 fell by one third in the same period. However, the total quantity of atmospheric particulate matter is still problematic. Health limit values are often exceeded because the dominant part of total emissions comes from households especially during the winter season and from the effect of long-range transport (PM10: 56%, PM2.5: 77%).

The state of soil, which is a significant natural resource in Hungary, is good but land used for agriculture is endangered by numerous physical and chemical degradation processes (e.g. erosion, acidification) caused by inadequate land and fertilizer utilization. As the general state of natural areas is a serious issue worldwide, the loss of biodiversity also presents a major challenge to Hungary. Biodiversity is considered to be good or over average in some respects but this benefit seems to disappear gradually, e.g. farmland birds' population decreased by about 24% (2007–2012).

Nine per cent of surface water courses and 65% of lakes and reservoirs are in good or excellent ecological status (2010). Since 94% of surface water supply comes from neighbouring countries, it is heavily dependent on external factors, both in quantity and quality. Annual public utility water consumption per capita has gradually decreased since 2000 (by 10%) due to high water price and waste water discharge fee, and, in response, the water supply of private wells. Although the quality of most potable water supplied is good the quality of 30% of public potable water supply does not fill EU requirements. This concerns the high concentration of geologically originated arsenic, ammonia, iron and manganese. In 2012, 74% of households were supplied by via the public sewerage system, and 97.8% of sewage water was cleaned (46.9% of the total was biologically cleaned, which has been increasing).

Total waste generation has slowly been dwindling. In 2007 and 2008, waste generation fell back drastically. In 2010, simultaneously with slight GDP growth, the quantity of waste generated showed a more moderate decrease. The total quantity of waste (2011) still did not reach half the waste generated in 2000. Recycling rate of several waste streams (e.g. municipal solid waste) has increased since 2005. Waste incineration decreased significantly between 2000 and 2005 and has been unchanged ever since. The quantity of deposited municipal solid waste has been decreasing.

Main policy responses to key environmental challenges and concerns

The National Environment Programme (NEP)[7][8] sets the environmental policy aims and provides the necessary measures, and is complemented by several thematic strategies.

Transportation and energy are decisive factors in shaping the state of the atmospheric environment, among others. Funding schemes, legislative changes and pertaining strategies primarily target energy-efficiency (especially for buildings), and increased use of renewable energy. The use of public transport is decreasing, while the rate of private transport is increasing. Funding has been provided for environmentally friendly transport solutions (e.g. public transport, especially city road transport and intercity rail transport, bicycle routes), but there is still room for further improvements.

57 per cent of Hungary's territory is made up of agricultural land. National and EU funds have been facilitating agri-environmental measures, however, in 2011, the share of land being used for organic farming (2.2%) is less than half the EU-27 average (5.4%)[9]. For the preservation of biodiversity, the NEP ensures priority to the interest of nature in urbanization, infrastructure development and agriculture, and contains active nature conservation measures (e.g. protection of species, remediation of habitats).

The protection of water resources is also a principle objective. Improving waste water treatment, modernizing landfills, implementing the nitrate action programme and the new Act CCIX of 2011[10] all contribute to a reduction in adverse effects on waters and the realization of sustainable water management. Basic elements of the Act are principles of protection of natural resources and of recovery of costs, and the 'polluter-pays' principle. The continued improvement of natural water retention, and reservation technologies also play an important role in climate change adaptation. Further hydro-morphological measures are to be made to expand the good ecological status of surface waters.

While there has been a considerable degree of technological development within the economy, the principles of circular economy are not yet widespread. The NEP[8] puts emphasis on further improving resource efficiency, strengthening green economy and enhancing eco-innovation. The renewed waste management regulatory system highlights waste prevention, reuse and recycling.

Country specific issues 

The Accessible Sky agreement was signed on 26 February 2008 in collaboration with all distribution companies, governmental and non-governmental conservation organisations to minimise bird mortality along power lines. Numerous large-scale projects have been launched since the agreement was signed.[11]

Thanks to improving co-operation, energy companies have also co-financed projects right from the beginning. Since 2011, for the relevant projects, a minimum of 25% co-financing by energy companies is a requirement under the Hungarian Environment and Energy Operational Programme. Under the agreement, Birdlife Hungary produced a conflict map to prioritise all power lines in Hungary. The total length of top priority power lines was 21 700 km for retrofitting.

Large-scale projects included the burial of 80 km and 11 km of medium-voltage power lines in the Hortobágy National Park and in the Borsodi Mezőség Landscape Protection Area, respectively. Bird diverters were fitted on 45 km of medium and high voltage power lines in some of the most important Great Bustard sites in Hungary to avoid collision. Two LIFE Nature projects focused on prevention of electrocution: a total of 910 km of medium voltage power lines were insulated to save Saker Falcons and Red-footed Falcons, primarily. In close cooperation of energy companies and conservation experts, the best available technology (BAT) to produce power lines in a bird friendly way is constantly updated and new solutions are field-tested. In addition, the cooperating partners also support the nesting of Saker Falcons with nestboxes mounted on pylons (Fig 1).

Figure 1: Nest occupation of Saker Falcons on high voltage pylons and in trees

Under the Accessible Sky agreement the cooperating partners also support the nesting of Saker Falcons with nestboxes mounted on pylons.

Source: Birdlife Hungary

Dark Sky Parks represent an important role in light pollution reduction movements in Hungary. They draw attention to this growing, but not well-known ecological problem: the sensitivity of wildlife to artificial light at night. In Hungary, there are two certified International Dark Sky Parks. The Starry Sky Park at the Zselic[12] Landscape Protection Area became the first certified dark sky park in Europe together with the Scotch Galloway Forest Park in 2009. The second certified area is the Hortobágy[13] Starry Sky Park that is located in the heart of the Hortobágy National Park. It earned the International Dark Sky Park title in 2011.


[1] UNECE, 1998, Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

[2] European Commission, 2003, Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC.

[3] Hungary, 1995, Act LXIII of 1995 on the General Rules of Environmental Protection.

[4] Holndonner, P. ed., 2013, Magyarország Környezeti Állapota 2013, Nemzeti Környezetügyi Intézet, Budapest (State of the Environment in Hungary 2013). Accessed 19 March 2014

[5] Bóday, P. ed., 2014, Environmental Report 2013, Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Budapest. Accessed 19 March 2014

[6] Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Environmental statistical datasets, Accessed 30 July 2014

[7] Hungary, 2009, Parliamentary resolution No. 96/2009. (XII. 9.) concerning the National Environment Programme 2009–2014. Accessed 20 March 2014.

[8] Government of Hungary, 2014, Nemzeti Környezetvédelmi Program 2014–2020(draft), Budapest. Accessed 17 September 2014 (Draft of National Environment Programme 2014-2020)

[9] European Commission, 2013, Facts and figures on organic agriculture in the European Union, Brussels. Accessed 10 July 2014

[10] Hungary, 2011, Act CCIX of 2011 on Water Supply.

[11] Birdlife Hungary, 'Safer powerlines for Hungary's birds.' Accessed 14 July 2014

[12] 'Zselic Starry Sky Park.' Accessed 25 March 2014.

[13] 'Hortobágy Starry Sky Park.' Accessed 25 March 2014.

See also:

Government of Hungary, 2014, Nemzeti Biodiverzitás Stratégia 2014–2020(draft), Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014 (Draft of National Biodiversity Strategy 2014–2020)

Government of Hungary, 2014, Országos Hulladékgazdálkodási Terv 2014–2020, Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014 (National Waste Management Plan 2014-2020)

Government of Hungary, 2013, Vízgyűjtő-gazdálkodási Terv, Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014 (River Basin Management Plan of Hungary)

Government of Hungary, 2012, National Energy Strategy 2030, Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014

Government of Hungary, 2011, Nemzeti Környezettechnológiai Innovációs Stratégia 2011–2020, Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014 (National Environmental Technology Innovation Strategy 2011–2020)

Government of Hungary, 2011, National Environmental Technology Innovation Strategy 2011-2020(Summary), Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014

Government of Hungary, 2010, National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2010-2020, Budapest. Accessed 10 July 2014


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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