For the last four or five years the Czech Republic has, like the other nine countries joining the European Union on May 1, been very busy adopting some 80,000 pages of EU legislation, covering everything from waste disposal to the supervision of abattoirs. But with just two months to go before accession, has the Czech Republic managed to make all the necessary preparations, or - at this late stage - is there still more to do? That's a question we put to Ivo Slosarcik, who works at the Prague-based think tank Europeum.
"The answer is yes. We have to finalise the process of the appointment of a commissioner, a judge for the European Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, and there are some leftovers in the internal legislation. Some of them were underlined by the monitoring report, by the Commission in the Fall. Many of those leftovers are now being solved or are in the process of legislative adoption."
One recent legislative change, called for in the final European Commission annual monitoring report, was the recognition by the Czech authorities of medical qualifications earned in other EU countries. However, even if the Czech Republic managed to adopt every single EU regulation or directive by May 1, the process would not end there.
"Since European integration and the European legal system is a dynamic process, the preparation of the Czech Republic will not end with the moment of accession; even after enlargement we have to gradually change all legislation to reflect the EU law and to implement new norms which are now in the process of adoption."
Before accession the Czech Republic had to adopt European Union legislation in a somewhat passive manner, and was not directly involved in the adoption of those norms. Previously laws were agreed by the 15 existing EU member states and the Czech Republic and other accession countries had to either adopt them or, in some cases, ask for a transition period. However, once the ball got rolling, says Ivo Slosarcik, the incoming states had a much more significant say.
"Nowadays, since the signature of the Accession Act, Czech experts, from the ministries, from the central offices, are invited to working groups which prepare new legislation. And their positions are, or should be, taken seriously, because then we will after May 1 vote on those norms. So the question is not so much whether the Czech Republic has a lot to do before enlargement, but how it is prepared to work gradually and continuously during its membership, and how effective it will be."
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