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Brussels, 24 November 2010

Environment - Industrial emissions: Commission urges Estonia and Ireland to comply with EU legislation

The European Commission is taking Estonia to the European Court of Justice for its incomplete transposition of a law designed to prevent industrial pollution. Ireland is also being urged to comply with the same piece of legislation, as a number of its agricultural installations still do not meet the requirements of the Directive. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is referring Estonia to the Court and sending Ireland a reasoned opinion. Both Member States have two months to respond.

The infringements concern the EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), which aims to prevent and control industrial emissions to air, water, and soil.

Under European law, industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential must be licensed. The Directive required Member States by 30 October 2007 to issue new permits or reconsider and – where necessary – update existing permits for all industrial installations that were in operation before 30 October 1999.


The Commission has had concerns about the transposition of the IPPC Directive in Estonia for several years, and a failure to amend domestic law is now leading to a Court appearance for Estonia.

The Commission signalled its concerns in 2008, but shortcomings remain. Issues include the incomplete transposition of several definitions, gaps in obligations concerning applications for permits, and problems with access to justice provisions.

These shortcomings were addressed in a Reasoned Opinion on 29 January 2010. In March this year, Estonia agreed to amend its IPPC legislation, but the respective amendments have not been communicated to the Commission, and no action appears to have been taken to date. Estonia is therefore being referred to the European Court of Justice.


According to the latest information received from Ireland, at least 26 pig and poultry rearing installations still lack appropriate permits for their operation.

Although the Irish authorities have assured the Commission that that all large pig and poultry rearing installations will operate on the basis of appropriate permits, the Commission is not satisfied with the pace of the permitting process. It is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Ireland has two months to comply with the request. Failing this, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.


Directive 2008/1/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control provides an EU-wide standard for licensing industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential. Permits can only be issued if certain environmental conditions are met, so that the companies themselves bear responsibility for preventing and reducing any pollution they may cause. Permitting ensures that the most appropriate pollution-prevention measures are used, and that waste is recycled or disposed of in the least polluting way possible.

The Commission has taken 7 Member States to Court for infringements of the IPPC Directive (see IP/09/1649 and IP/10/1412).

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:

For more details on infringement procedures in general, see MEMO/10/605

For more information on the IPPC Directive and its implementation:

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