Brussels, 24 April 2002
Commission approves Northern Ireland exemption from the Aggregates Levy
The European Commission has decided not to raise objections to the temporary exemption for Northern Ireland from the "Aggregates Levy", which was introduced by the United Kingdom on 1 April. It is an environmental tax that is levied on the commercial exploitation of rock, sand and gravel when used as aggregate for construction purposes. The purposes of the levy (AGL) are to maximise the use of recycled aggregate and alternatives to virgin aggregate, and to promote the efficient use of virgin aggregate. The AGL is, therefore, designed to encourage a shift in demand away from virgin aggregate towards recycled and alternative aggregates.
The United Kingdom notified an exemption from the AGL for companies operating in Northern Ireland, that will face a particular threat of competition from companies in the Republic of Ireland. The exemption concerns the phased introduction of the AGL in Northern Ireland over a period of five years.
The Community guidelines on State aid for environmental protection (OJ C 37, 3.2.2001, p.3) allow for temporary exemptions from new environmental taxes in some circumstances, notably because of temporary risks of a loss of international competitiveness. The Commission considers that the exemption for Northern Ireland fulfils the conditions set out in the guidelines and accordingly raises no objections.