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Brussels, 14 March 2011

Environment: Commission takes France to Court for failing to implement rules on industrial pollution

On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the he European Commission is taking France to the European Court of Justice for failing to comply with EU rules on industrial emissions. Four years after the deadline, France is still failing to ensure that a number of industrial installations meet the requirements of a Directive designed to prevent industrial pollution.

Under European law, industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential must be licensed. The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive required Member States by 30 October 2007 to issue new permits or revise existing permits for all industrial installations that were in operation before 30 October 1999.

According to the latest information available to the Commission, at least 62 industrial installations in France are still operating without a permit in full compliance with the requirements of the IPPC Directive. The Commission is not satisfied with the pace of the revision process, and has therefore decided to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Large industrial installations account for a considerable proportion of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants, and have major environmental impacts. Air pollution can have numerous negative consequences for human health and the environment, including respiratory problems, premature death, and damage to ecosystems.


The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive protects citizens by providing an EU-wide standard for licensing industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential. Permits can only be issued to installations if certain environmental conditions are met, with companies themselves bearing responsibility for preventing and reducing any pollution they may cause. The permitting process 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 previously taken 8 Member States to Court for infringements of the IPPC Directive (see IP/10/1579, IP/09/1649 and IP/10/1412).

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:

For more information on the IPPC Directive and its implementation:

See also MEMO/11/162

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