Report submitted by the delegation of the Netherlands
1. A workshop on key elements for bilateral and multilateral agreements on environmental impact assessment (EIA) in a transboundary context was organized by the delegation of the Netherlands from 27 to 30 November 1994 in Baarn (Netherlands), pursuant to a decision taken at the third meeting of the Signatories (ENVWA/WG.3/6, annex III, element 01.4.2).
2. The workshop was attended by experts from Albania, Armenia, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
3. The workshop addressed specific issues related to bilateral or multilateral agreements and arrangements on EIA in a transboundary context. The delegations of Austria and Slovakia informed the workshop of the preparatory work undertaken with respect to a possible bilateral arrangement on EIA between their countries. The example proved to be of great value to the proceedings of the workshop.
4. The workshop recommended the Meeting of the Signatories to (a) arrange for the continuation of the exchange of information on examples of bilateral and multilateral cooperation and arrangements and (b) publish the report of the present workshop, as annexed below, in the Environmental Series together with the report of the workshop held in Moscow (Russian Federation).
5. The workshop expressed its gratitude to the delegation of the Netherlands for organizing and hosting this event.
GUIDANCE ON KEY ELEMENTS FOR BILATERAL
OR MULTILATERAL ARRANGEMENTS ON EIA
IN A TRANSBOUNDARY CONTEXT
1. As the entry into force of the 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context draws near, it is important to develop tools for the effective application of the provisions of the Convention.
2. Useful work has already been done as outlined in the reports of the task force on legal and administrative aspects of the Convention (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12) and the report on specific methodological issues of EIA in a transboundary context (ENVWA/WG.3/R.13). The task force made a number of proposals in its report for further work to consider certain aspects of the application of the Convention in more detail.
3. In response to one of these proposals, the Signatories to the Convention accepted, at their third meeting, an offer by Austria and the Netherlands to organize a workshop devoted to bilateral and multilateral agreements on EIA in a transboundary context (ENVWA/WG.3/6, para.19). The Convention contains provisions on that matter in Article 8 and Appendix VI. According to these provisions, the Parties may continue existing or enter into new bilateral or multilateral agreements or other arrangements in order to implement their obligations under the Convention. Such arrangements may be based on the elements listed in Appendix VI.
4. The workshop noted, however, that bilateral and multilateral arrangements or agreements were not a precondition for the application, the ratification or the entry into force of the Convention or a requirement for its implementation or the implementation of the Resolution on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (ECE/ENVWA/19).
5. The workshop examined further possible elements for the application of the Convention as guidance for the future Parties in implementing the Convention, particularly in the context of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. It was not the intention to repeat what was already in the Convention but rather to work out solutions for practical problems based, as far as possible, on existing practical experiences. It may be used by the Parties as a frame of reference for the application of the Convention on a case-by-case basis or for developing bilateral or multilateral arrangements or agreements.
6. In order to collect the basic information, a questionnaire was sent out in April 1994 by the delegation of the Netherlands to all focal points for the Convention, and a small group of experts organized by the delegation of Austria met in Vienna (31 August-2 September 1994).
7. This document is based on the answers to the questionnaire and on the discussions at the Vienna expert meeting and the workshop. It indicates possible key elements for bilateral or multilateral arrangements or agreements such as further details of the application of the Convention, designation of contact points, translation of documents, financial aspects, how to inform and involve the public in the affected country, joint EIA, consultations between Parties, the decision, dispute settlement and post-project analysis. Where possible and appropriate, various possible solutions have been listed.
A. General issues
8. A more effective application of EIA in a transboundary context depends on several factors, such as:
- A mutual understanding of the national legal and administrative EIA systems and procedures of the concerned countries;
- A common interpretation of the provisions of the Convention by the Parties;
- Good working relations on a subregional level between government authorities; and
- More or less comparable environmental standards.
9. Bilateral or multilateral cooperation could benefit from an exchange of information on legal and administrative matters, on environmental data, and on the state of the environment in either country.
10. For an effective application of the Convention it could be very useful to inform the other Parties of the following:
- The authorities responsible for EIA;
- The authorities which will be involved at the various stages of the EIA process (with an indication of who does what exactly in the EIA process); and
- The flow chart describing the various stages and time-frames of the national EIA process.
11. It could also be very useful to have:
- A regular exchange of experts to present the respective national systems and discuss current problems and changes in legislation;
- Access to environmental information; and
- A joint EIA expert group.
12. The arrangements for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in each case may differ, as the national systems differ considerably. In some cases it would make more sense to have bilateral arrangements or agreements with other individual countries instead of trying to agree on a multilateral arrangement with several countries simultaneously. In other situations the existing working relations may serve as a basis for the application of the Convention. Practice has shown that making an arrangement or an agreement for a specific activity is also feasible.
B. Procedural steps
13. The Convention requires a number of procedural steps as indicated in the flow chart below (fig. I); in some cases the sequence of some steps may be different.
Different countries have different EIA procedures. Therefore, it might be useful in a bilateral or multilateral context, first to compare the procedural requirements of the Convention with the national procedural steps. Such a comparison will clarify similarities and divergences, and help to identify any future problems or opportunities for concerted action. The next step would then be to try to adapt the national procedures in line with the provisions of the Convention and to agree on the details of the procedure that should be followed whenever the Convention applies. As a general rule the EIA procedure of the Party of origin applies whenever the Convention applies.
14. Practice has already shown that once this has been agreed upon in general terms, there is still a need to work out a detailed schedule in cases where the Convention applies. Such a schedule or flow chart could contain information on time-frames, on which authority sends which information to whom at what stage of the process, etc. Such a schedule could be part of or annexed to a bilateral or multilateral arrangement.
Convention, main procedural steps
C. Application of the Convention
(a) Activities listed in Appendix I
15. The description of activities in Appendix I is in some cases too general (for example, "large dams and reservoirs"). In order to ensure a common interpretation, countries could specify what they understand by the terms used in the Convention, for instance by agreeing on threshold values (e.g. "dams with an output of more than [x] megawatts" or "with a surface of [y] ha."). Such provisions are intended to clarify what might be regarded as significant under the Convention. Parties should be careful not to narrow down the application of the Convention. Document ENVWA/WG.3/R.13 also provides further guidance for a clearer identification of proposed activities as listed in Appendix I to the Convention.
(b) Activities not listed in Appendix I
16. By mutual agreement, countries can treat activities not listed in Appendix I as if they were listed (Art. 2, para. 5). There are several ways of doing this:
- Countries could try to draw up a common catalogue of additional activities not listed in Appendix I and treat them in the same way as Appendix I activities;
- Countries could try to develop further detailed criteria for such additional activities making use of Appendix III to the Convention;
- Countries could agree that the Convention applies to all activities under the EIA procedure of the country of origin. As the national lists of activities usually differ, the problem of the principle of reciprocity arises. Countries will usually only be prepared to carry out a "transboundary EIA" if the other country will, under similar circumstances, do the same;
- Countries could decide on a case-by-case basis that the Convention applies to an activity not listed in Appendix I.
17. An example of the subregional work for the application of article 2, paragraph 5, of the Convention is the work done by the Arctic countries under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy.
2. The determination of "significance"
18. The decision whether or not to apply the Convention will generally be based on the consideration of the "significance" of an adverse transboundary impact (Art. 2, paras. 3 and 4).
19. It may therefore be advisable to define more explicitly what countries understand by the term "significant adverse transboundary impact". This problem was also referred to in the report on specific methodological issues of EIA in a transboundary context (ENVWA/WG.3/R.13). This document as well as ongoing work might be of help to Parties. The work on specific methodological issues has shown that, in some cases, it may be possible to establish generally acceptable criteria on significance. In most cases, however, the decision would be based on a comprehensive consideration of the characteristics of the activity and its possible impact. An element of judgement will always be present.
20. Practice has shown that as a criterion the location in an area within a certain distance from a border can be useful. For example, an arrangement could state that:
"Each activity mentioned in Appendix I and located in an area within [x] kilometres from the common border is likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact."
21. In such a case care should be taken not to exclude activities located further away from the border which nevertheless could cause such an impact. Thus, a provision could be added stipulating that:
"For activities listed in Appendix I but located outside the area mentioned, it should be decided on a case-by-case basis whether they are likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact."
22. Another possibility would be to indicate in an arrangement that:
"Any adverse impact on specified sensitive areas (e.g. nature conservation areas) in the affected country is considered to be significant."
23. It should be noted, however, that such clauses, again, cover only some cases where an impact may be "significant", and can thus not be exhaustive. Therefore, the opportunity to decide on a case-by-case basis should remain available.
D. Institutional arrangements
1. Designation of contact points
24. Various articles of the Convention require the country of origin to transmit information to the affected country and vice versa. In accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, document ENVWA/WG.3/R.5/Rev.1 contains a list of points of contact. If no point of contact has been designated, the notification should be transmitted to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the affected Party.
25. The Convention does not say how the exchange of information under Articles 2 to 7 should take place. Since legal and administrative systems vary considerably from country to country and are not always known in detail on the other side of the border, it has been found helpful to create specific contact points. These specific contact points could, for example, be the respective authorities carrying out the EIA in order to have direct contact with these authorities.
26. Contact points can assume various responsibilities and functions. They are usually the first contact for the Party of origin to which it sends the notification and in most cases it will also be the contact point which will respond to the notification. The contact point may have the following functions:
- Mail-box function: the contact point submits all the information it receives from the country of origin to the respective authorities, which then take action;
- Coordinating function: the contact point distributes the information to the respective authorities and the public of the affected country and collects their comments and reactions and submits them to the country of origin;
- Initiating function: the contact point is responsible merely for the first formal contact between the Parties and submits a list of authorities in the affected country to be directly addressed by the authorities of the country of origin.
27. For an effective application of the Convention it could be useful to
designate, in addition to the national contact points in the list in document ENVWA/WG.3/R.5/Rev.1, contact points at the local or subregional level. Of course the procedure is simpler if there is only one contact point.
28. However, some countries (e.g. federations) may find it easier to have several such institutions (e.g. one in each federal State, or one in each province). In such cases it may be difficult for the other country to find out which of the contact points is competent in a given case. On a bilateral or multilateral basis a solution can be found. For example, such a problem can be avoided if the other country can choose the specific contact point to which it sends its information and this will then transmit the information to the relevant contact point(s).
Another solution could be to contact the national government level and ask which contact point will have to be informed in a specific case. It was also found useful to specify the range of functions of the contact point(s).
2. Establishment of a joint body
29. Several of the tasks mentioned in the Convention could be fulfilled by a joint body (Art. 3, para. 6; Art. 4, para 2; Art. 5). Countries may wish to set up such a joint body or to use already existing bodies for the purposes of the Convention. A joint EIA expert group could also fulfil these tasks. A bilateral or multilateral arrangement could contain provisions to that effect (e.g. composition and tasks).
30. For instance, a joint EIA expert group is working under the Nordic Council of Ministers. One of its tasks is to strengthen the practical application of the Convention within the Nordic countries and neighbouring areas. The workshop under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy has invited EIA experts in the Arctic countries to cooperate and assist national Governments in further developing their EIA systems to protect the environment in the Arctic.
31. Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Convention requires the Party of origin in cases where a proposed activity listed in Appendix I is likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact to notify any Party which it considers may be an affected Party "as early as possible and no later than when informing its own public about that proposed activity". The precise time of notification depends on whether the EIA procedure of the Party of origin includes:
(i) A formal scoping process with mandatory public participation;
(ii) A formal scoping process without such participation; or
(iii) No formal scoping process at all.
32. If a scoping process with mandatory public participation exists, the Party of origin will have to inform the affected Party at the beginning of that process. If public participation at this stage is optional, it will have to notify the affected country only if it informs its own public. As many countries have an informal scoping process with public participation, there is an obligation (and it is also in the interest of the Party of origin) to notify the public in the affected country at that stage. If there is an informal scoping process without public participation, it might also be advisable to notify the affected country at that stage. The definition of the moment of notification is an important one and could be agreed on in a bilateral or multilateral arrangement.
33. Further ways to proceed in those different cases are also mentioned in the final report of the task force on legal and administrative aspects of the practical application of relevant provisions of the Convention (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12).
34. Which information should be given with the notification documentation?
Article 3, paragraph 2, of the Convention stipulates which information is to be given: information about the proposed activity, available information on its possible transboundary impact, the nature of the decision and a time-frame for response. A time-frame of one to four months was already suggested in the final report of the task force on legal and administrative aspects (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12, para. 15).
35. The task force on legal and administrative aspects of the application of the Convention proposed that a format for the content of these first pieces of information should be developed. The present workshop supported this proposal and suggested the development of such a format to the Meeting of the Signatories.
36. After a positive response, further information can be given according to Article 3, paragraph 5. It might be possible and useful in some cases to give this information already in the first step. The affected Party has then more information at an earlier stage and can react more promptly and in more detail. In addition to this forwarded information, it might be helpful for the affected country to receive a separate report just dealing with the transboundary impact or a report highlighting the relevant passages if they are contained elsewhere.
37. Article 3, paragraph 6, of the Convention provides that the Party of origin may ask the affected Party for reasonably obtainable information about the affected environment for the preparation of the EIA documentation. To obtain this information as soon as possible, it may be useful to ask for it in the notification. In that case the affected Party could provide, with its response to the notification, at least some available information about obviously affected areas (e.g. protected areas). The task force on legal and administrative aspects suggested that a period of up to four months might be sufficient (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12, para. 18).
38. A bilateral or multilateral arrangement could specify what is meant by "reasonably obtainable information". For instance it could lay down that the environmental information relating to the state of the environment in the affected areas of the affected Party and available to its official bodies will be transmitted. In that case a coordinating contact point (as mentioned in paras. 24-28 above) could play a supporting role in collecting the available relevant information within the affected country and in submitting it to the country of origin. As this stage of the EIA process can be very important for the preparation of the EIA documentation, it would be sensible to have an exchange of views by experts in this phase.
39. Countries may wish to include in a bilateral or multilateral arrangement a provision concerning the possibility to end the information process mentioned in Article 3, paragraphs 1 to 6, of the Convention. If the affected Party has indicated that it intends to participate in the EIA procedure but later wants to end its participation, a specific bilateral clause may state that "the affected country shall inform the country of origin to that effect in the same way as it has stated its intention to take part in the procedure".
F. How to inform and who informs the public of the affected Party,submissions of comments, public hearings
40. The Convention contains several provisions with regard to the information and involvement of the public of the affected Party (Art. 2, para. 6, Art. 3, para. 8, Art. 4, para. 2). To fulfil these requirements the concerned Parties should inform the public clearly about these opportunities. As the opportunities for the public to be involved differ from country to country information should be given to the public in the affected Party about the participation process and the formal procedure in each case. This could, for example, be given either in a public advertisement or in the publication announcing a public hearing or in a special information brochure. Practice has already shown that there is a need to make more detailed arrangements in a bilateral or multilateral context on this issue.
41. A major problem is that there are considerable differences in the formal national obligations with regard to public participation (e.g. different forms of public involvement). Countries may want to investigate to what extent it is beneficial to harmonize their provisions on public participation. As long as there is no harmonization, it could be laid down that the procedure of the Party of origin should broadly be followed.
42. Another issue is how the public of the affected Party is informed. This could be done either according to the rules of the Party of origin or to the rules of the affected Party.
The following step would be to identify the authority which will be responsible for informing the public of the affected Party. A second point is the way in which the comments of the public of the affected Party will be submitted to the competent authority of the country of origin. There are various options:
(i) The responsibility for informing the public of the affected country is
with the authority (competent authority or the proponent) in the Party of origin;
(ii) The responsibility is with an authority of the affected Party (contact point);
(iii) There is a shared responsibility between authorities in both countries.
44. The advantage of the first option is that the information can be provided directly to the public, that the comments can be sent directly to the country of origin and that delays can be avoided.
45. The advantage of the second option is that the authority of the affected Party is well informed of the ways and means of publishing and making available the EIA documents for public inspection, etc. A drawback could be the delays, especially when the comments of the public are first sent to the authority in the affected Party.
46. The advantages of both alternatives could be combined by sharing the responsibility between the authorities in both countries.
47. Although public hearings are not explicitly mentioned in the Convention with regard to public participation, several countries use public hearings as a form of public participation. The question then arises of whether public hearings should be held in the Party of origin or in the affected Party. Under bilateral or multilateral arrangements the Party of origin could hold a public hearing in the territory of the affected Party. Alternatively, it could be preferable to organize the public hearing in the Party of origin, providing the participants from abroad, where necessary, with the services of an interpreter.
48. In some countries affected individuals of the affected Party are given the right to appeal (see also sect. H below) against the decision. This information could be given either in the publication announcing the public hearing, in a special information brochure or in the decision.
G. Consultations between the Parties
49. Article 5 of the Convention provides that after the completion of the EIA documentation the Party of origin shall enter into consultations with the affected Party. It is not stated, however, at which level such consultations shall take place.
50. In general official consultations are usually at the highest level because they take place between States. Who finally takes part is up to the respective States to decide. It could, for example, already be indicated in the reply to the request for consultations.
51. Regarding the subject of consultations, Article 5 of the Convention already mentions some issues. There can, of course, be more subjects depending on the situation. It seems likely that the country that asks for consultations also proposes some items that should be discussed (e.g. monitoring, post-project analysis) and that the other country in answering to the request also proposes some.
52. In accordance with the provisions of the Convention, the consultations take place before the final decision is taken in order to take into account the outcome of the consultations.
53. Article 5 provides that at the beginning of the consultations a reasonable time-frame should be set for the duration of the consultations. A possible way could be to try to agree on a case-by-case basis on the time-frame within which the consultations should be finished. If there is no agreement on a reasonable time-frame, a provision could be included in the arrangement stating that after a certain time (for example six to eight weeks) consultations end automatically, regardless of whether there is a satisfactory outcome. After that the EIA procedure continues and the decision can be taken.
54. In many cases it may be useful and even essential to meet more often and to exchange information at an expert level. The Parties should be able to ask for such an expert exchange whenever there is a need for it. As already indicated above and according to Article 3, paragraph 6, it is possible to meet and exchange information about the affected environment in the affected country for the preparation of the documentation. Another possibility is to meet at the level of an existing joint body.
55. Often the question is raised of how the comments of the authorities and the public of the affected country are taken into account. According to the Convention (Art. 6) due account has to be taken of the outcome of the EIA, including the documentation, as well as the comments thereon received and the outcome of the consultations. How this is done in detail is up to the different national systems to decide. At least it means that the comments of the authorities and the public of the affected country and the outcome of the consultations are taken into consideration in the same way as the comments from the authorities and the public of the Party of origin.
56. The Party of origin has to provide the final decision with the reasons and considerations to the affected Party. These could, in the spirit of the Convention, also reflect the impact on the affected country. For the dissemination of the decision to the relevant bodies of the affected country or for giving information on the decision to the public, the contact point could again be useful. The competent authority of the country of origin can also be responsible for publicizing the decision in the affected country. In a bilateral or multilateral agreement this could be dealt with in detail, e.g. in the same way as is done with the publication of the EIA documents.
57. As mentioned in section F above, in some countries the affected individuals of the affected Party have the right to appeal against the decision in the Party of origin. The information about such a right of appeal could be given in the decision.
I. Post-project analysis
58. Article 7 of the Convention stipulates that the concerned Parties, at the request of any such Party, shall determine whether, and if so to what extent, a post-project analysis shall be carried out, taking into account the likely significant adverse transboundary impact of the activity for which an EIA has been undertaken pursuant to the Convention.
59. As mentioned in Appendix V to the Convention, the objectives of post-project analysis are monitoring compliance with the conditions as set out in the approval of the activity, reviewing an impact for proper management and in order to cope with uncertainties and to verify past predictions in order to transfer experience to future activities of the same type.
60. The requirements in the national legislation on post-project analysis vary considerably. In a limited number of countries it is mandatory to undertake post-project analysis as part of the EIA and the decision-making process.
61. In bilateral or multilateral arrangements countries could try to agree on the range of projects to which the post-project analysis should apply and on how to perform it. It could also be possible to determine the role of the affected Party in carrying out the post-project analysis, the responsibility for the post- project analysis, how to inform the affected Party of the outcome, the question of whether the public will be informed. Alternatively, these aspects could also be decided on a case-by-case basis by the concerned Parties.
J. Dispute prevention and settlement
62. A special case of dispute settlement is dealt with in Article 3, paragraph 7. It provides for a dispute prevention and settlement procedure in cases where the Parties have different views about whether there will be a significant adverse transboundary impact (exchange of information and discussions and the use of an inquiry commission).
63. The Convention also contains a general provision, in Article 15, on dispute settlement which mentions as a means of such settlement: (i): negotiations
(para. 1); (ii): arbitration (para. 2(b)); (iii) : International Court of Justice (para. 2(a)). Furthermore, Article 15, paragraph 1, refers to the possibility for Parties to use "any other method of dispute settlement acceptable to the parties to the dispute".
64. Some of these mechanisms may require considerable time. For example, arbitration according to Appendix VII or the submission of the case to the International Court of Justice may be very time-consuming. Article 15, paragraph 1, of the Convention also makes it possible to try to find quicker mechanisms than those provided for in the Convention.
65. One could, for example, think of situations where:
- The submitted documents are insufficient or the summaries of certain documents do not provide the necessary information; or
- Documents arrive too late for making comments.
The first aim should be to settle problems with the interpretation of the Convention or the bilateral agreement in the most appropriate way and at the most appropriate level. Maybe another informal expert exchange can clarify the situation. In any case either country should be able to take the initiative and make a proposal as it sees fit for reaching a solution which is satisfactory to both countries. It is also possible to use the consultation process for settling problems. If these quicker or more immediate mechanisms do not work, the mechanisms of the Convention for dispute settlement can still be used.
K. Joint EIA
66. Regarding transboundary EIA, there are cases where the project itself actually straddles the border (e.g. highways, railroads, waterways). In that situation either of the concerned Parties is at the same time Party of origin and affected Party.
67. In those cases a new form of EIA cooperation and coordination should be developed, because the question arises of which of the EIA procedures is applicable.
68. Is there a need to identify the applicable procedure or a need for a new joint procedure? In answering that question the flexibility of each national system has to be investigated. Also, it has to be decided which steps really need joint action, while the rest can be done according to either national system.
69. The use of a joint body may be helpful in such cases. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that both countries still need to make their own final decision. These decisions, however, should be harmonized or be coordinated with respect to time and content, based on the same result of the EIA. This would also save resources.
70. One possible solution could be to follow the most far-reaching national system in the steps that will be taken jointly. Another possibility is to develop a new joint EIA procedure and formulate this in a bilateral agreement especially concluded for this purpose. An important point in that respect is that the preparation and respective decision-making processes should take place simultaneously.
71. In many cases, language differences between concerned Parties may cause problems in transboundary EIAs. Evidently, it is important that both the authorities and the public in the affected Party understand the information transmitted by the Party of origin, as well as the proceedings of public hearings in that country. On the other hand, due to the cost of translation it may be possible to distinguish between documents requiring translation and other documents which need not be translated.
72. The report of the task force on legal and administrative aspects deals with the issue of translation in detail (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12, paras. 33-39). Especially concerning the question of which of the documents need to be translated and which part of the contents has to be translated, the report gives a good overview (e.g. the extent to which the comments of the affected country have to be translated). The bilateral or multilateral arrangement could specify which documents should be translated.
73. Very often the question is raised of who is responsible for translations and who pays for them. The task force report states that the responsibility mainly is with the Party of origin, which should also pay for translations (ENVWA/WG.3/R.12, para.41). Concerning the quality of translations, the task force referred to the possibility of establishing or authorizing organizations to translate and to guarantee professional standards. In bilateral or multilateral agreements countries could make detailed arrangements making use of the results of the work of the task force.
74. As an alternative, the concerned Parties may also jointly establish or authorize organizations to translate the relevant documents. This will require a consensus on the mode of financing those organizations, etc. Such organizations could also be given the responsibility of guaranteeing the quality of translations.
75. Practice has shown that in many cases additional time is needed for the translation of the respective documents and their transmittal to the other country. That means that in a bilateral or multilateral context solutions should be found to this problem. Either the documents should be translated before they are transmitted or the respective national time-frames should be extended for this purpose.
76. For some situations like consultations or public hearings on the territory of the affected Party, interpretation has to be provided. For instance, the country which hosts the consultations or which leads the public hearing could also provide for interpretation. Alternatively it could always be the responsibility of the Party of origin.
M. Financial aspects
77. The application of the Convention implies several financial issues. The question of who pays for the translation of the various EIA documents and the comments thereon has already been mentioned. Furthermore, there are a number of procedural steps with financial implications (e.g. publication in the mass media in the affected country and presentation of the documentation for public
inspection, public hearings, interpreters). Countries may wish to conclude explicit agreements on these financial aspects. A detailed list of costs could be drawn up on a bilateral or multilateral basis, indicating who will be paying for which element.
78. The task force on legal and administrative tasks formulated as a general rule that the Party of origin should be responsible for the procedural costs, because it would be easier for this Party than for the affected Party to recover the costs from the proponent. Financing of additional costs such as external expert opinions could, as a rule, best be paid by the one who asks for it.
N. Concluding remarks
79. Practice has shown that, although the Convention does not require such arrangements for its application, ratification, or entry into force, bilateral or multilateral arrangements on how to apply the provisions of the Convention in practice could prove useful. In the foregoing sections some key elements have been listed for inclusion in such bilateral and multilateral arrangements. Based on mutual trust and the principle of reciprocity, bilateral or multilateral arrangements could be developed to ensure the most effective application of the Convention and of the Resolution on EIA in a Transboundary Context, which states that the Signatories resolve to seek to implement the Convention to the maximum extent possible pending its entry into force. In a later stage these arrangements could be formalized if the countries involved wish to do so, taking into account the practical experience and the lessons learned.