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Brussels, 25 June 2009

Environment Council: Commission welcomes political agreement on industrial emissions

The Commission welcomes the political agreement on industrial emissions reached today at the Environment Council. The agreement brings the EU one step closer to new legislation on industrial pollution providing higher levels of environmental protection. The agreement strengthens the application of best available techniques and reduces harmful emissions from large combustion plants.

Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Industrial emissions in the EU are still very high. It is absolutely vital that these emissions be reduced, especially by those industrial plants that pollute the most. Today's agreement brings us one step closer to substantial emission reductions from industrial plants, which will decrease the exposure of European citizens to harmful pollutants and significantly improve the health of the environment."

Industrial pollution: strengthening best available techniques

The agreement reached today in Council retains the key aspects of the Commission proposal presented in December 2007. The proposal merges seven directives into one and streamlines certain provisions (see IP/07/1985 and MEMO/07/623 ). It will also reduce competition distortions between companies and lessen the administrative burden faced by business under the existing regime. The proposal tightens minimum emission limits in certain industrial sectors, introduces standards for environmental inspections, and renders the review of permits more effective.

At the core of the Commission proposal is the need to ensure the effective implementation of best available techniques by making Best Available Techniques Reference documents (BREFs) the principle reference point in the permitting process. These documents will make the implementation of best available techniques easier and more transparent.

By revising the minimum emission limits that apply to large combustion plants and bringing them in line with best available techniques the Commission proposal is expected to reduce yearly health expenditure by 7 to 28 billion and prevent 13,000 premature deaths a year.

A number of new monitoring, reporting and inspection tools will facilitate the enforcement of the industrial emission rules. The agreement reached today will also reduce competition distortions between companies, lessen the administrative burden faced by business, and provide the public easier access to information.

The agreement will now be sent to the European Parliament for a second reading.

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