The first Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area was signed by Denmark, Finland, West Germany, East Germany, Poland, USSR and Sweden in 1974 and entered into force on 3 May 1980. A new convention was signed in 1992 by Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992, entered into force on 17 January 2000.
The States-Parties to the Convention agreed individually or jointly to take all appropriate legislative, administrative or other relevant measures to prevent and eliminate pollution in order to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic Sea Area and the preservation of its ecological balance.
The States-Parties to the Convention are obligated to notify and enter into consultations with each other when an environmental impact assessment of a proposed activity is likely to cause a significant adverse impact on the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area. Similarly, they are to notify and consult each other whenever a pollution incident in their territory is likely to cause pollution to the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area outside its territory and adjacent maritime area.
The Convention sets up a Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM)(originally set up pursuant to the first Helsinki Convention, its functions subsequently reviewed), whose responsibilities are to implement the Convention, make recommendations to the Parties, define pollution control criteria and objectives and promote additional measures in co-operation with respective governmental bodies of the Parties.
The Parties also undertake to implement measures to maintain adequate ability and to respond to pollution incidents in order to eliminate or minimize the consequences of these incidents and regularly report to the HELCOM commission on and inform the general public of the measures taken in accordance with the Convention.