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Environment: Commission takes steps to cut industrial emissions further

Commission Européenne - IP/07/1985   21/12/2007

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IP/07/1985

Brussels, 21 December 2007

Environment: Commission takes steps to cut industrial emissions further

The European Commission today adopted new legislation on industrial emissions to strengthen the provisions already in force and reduce industrial emissions throughout the European Union. The proposal will bring significant health and environmental benefits and will create a better level playing field across the EU, reducing competition distortions between companies. It will also simplify current legislation by merging seven directives into one, significantly cutting the administrative burden for industry and public authorities.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Industrial emissions in the European Union remain too high and are having detrimental effects on human health and the environment. Clearer and stricter rules are needed to ensure that industrial installations comply with the necessary high environmental standards across the EU. The EU must ensure that companies meet their obligations and use the best available techniques."

Tackling the shortcomings of current legislation on industrial emissions

The aim of the new directive is to tackle the shortcomings of current legislation on industrial emissions. There are seven overlapping directives covering similar activities with approximately 52,000 installations falling under the scope of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive alone. The main thrust of the directive is to increase the use of "best available techniques" (BATs), an obligation to ensure that industrial operators use the most cost-effective techniques to achieve a high level of environmental protection.

Due to the weakness of existing legislation, there has not been the level of application of BATs required by the IPPC Directive across the EU. Compliance with and enforcement of current legislation in the different Member States is also inconsistent and the complex legal framework carries unnecessary costs for industry. These issues need to be addressed in order to maintain a level playing field for industry while offering higher levels of protection for the environment and human health.
The aim of the IPPC Directive (see MEMO/07/441) is to prevent and control emissions to air, water and soil from industrial installations across the European Union. The most recent figures on the issuing of permits under the directive suggest that by mid-2006 only about 50% of the 52,000 installations concerned had received a permit. This regrettable situation shows Member States have not made sufficient efforts to comply with the directive's deadline (30 October 2007).

The new directive on industrial emissions

The Commission carried out substantial research before proposing the new directive. This includes studies on competitiveness and options for streamlining legislation, reports on individual industry sectors, and intensive discussions with stakeholders.

The result is a clearer and more coherent directive that merges the current IPPC Directive and six sectoral directives into a single new industrial emissions directive. It strengthens the application of BATs across the EU, particularly by restricting divergence from BATs to specific cases and placing greater emphasis on justifying the conditions laid down in the permits.

The directive tightens minimum emission limits in certain industrial sectors across the EU – particularly for large combustion plants where progress to reduce pollution is insufficient. It introduces minimum standards for environmental inspections of industrial installations and allows for more effective permit reviews.

The proposal also extends the scope of legislation to cover other polluting activities, such as medium sized combustion plants, thus ensuring that all European Union Member States receive the same high level of environmental protection.

The directive is expected to provide significant benefits for the environment and human health. The emission reductions achieved at large combustion plants alone are likely to offer net benefits ranging between €7 to 28 billion per year and should reduce premature deaths and years of life lost by 13,000 and 125,000 respectively. Significant health and environmental benefits are also expected in other sectors.

The proposed directive will reduce administrative costs for authorities and operators by between €105 and €255 million per year, thus contributing to the future sustainability of EU industry.

As the proposal is not due to come into effect for several years, the Commission will also put forward recommendations and work with Member States to improve the implementation of existing legislation.

Background

See Question and Answers on the Commission's proposal and on the current legislation (MEMO/07/623).

For more information:
http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ippc/index.htm


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