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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission urges Greece to comply with Court ruling over missing industrial permits

Brussels, 16 June - The Commission is asking Greece to comply with a 2010 EU Court of Justice ruling on industrial installations that are operating with expired permits. Although Greece is taking action to remedy the situation, the Commission is concerned with the slow pace of progress. At least 21 industrial installations are still operating with permits that have not yet been reconsidered or updated. Under EU law, this should have been done by 30 October 2007.

On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice, giving Greece two months to comply. If Greece continues not to fulfil its legal obligations, the Commission may refer the case back to Court and ask for financial sanctions to be imposed.

Under EU law, industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential must be licensed. The Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive requires 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. Permits are only issued if a number of environmental criteria are met.

On 2 December 2010 the EU Court of Justice ruled that Greece had not issued or reviewed the necessary permits to comply with requirements of the Directive. Although the number of non-compliant installations is being reduced, at least 21 installations still lack the permits required. The Commission is not satisfied with the pace of the permitting process and is therefore sending a letter of formal notice urging Greece to comply with the Court ruling.

Installations must have the correct permits to ensure they meet the strict requirements necessary to ensure the highest protection to human health and the environment. Large industrial and agricultural installations account for a considerable proportion of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants, and have major environmental impacts. Air pollution can have numerous consequences including respiratory problems, premature death and damage to ecosystems.

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The Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive protects citizens by providing an EU-wide standard for licensing industrial and agri-industrial activities with a high pollution potential. Permits can only be issued 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 9 Member States to Court for infringements of the IPPC Directive (see IP/10/1579, IP/09/1649, IP/10/1412 and IP/11/305).

For current statistics on infringements in general, see:

For more information on the IPPC Directive and its implementation:

See also MEMO/11/408

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 295 06 68)

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