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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 February 2013

Environment: Commission refers Sweden back to Court over industrial permits, asks for fines

The European Commission is taking Sweden back to Court for its failure to license industrial installations that are operating without permits. Despite an earlier Court judgement on this matter, Sweden has still not licensed two major industrial installations. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore referring Sweden back to the European Court of Justice and, in line with established policy, suggesting a daily penalty payment of 14912 euros for each day after the second Court ruling until Sweden complies with the judgment and a lump sum calculated on the basis of 4893 euros per day for the period between the first judgment and the day of compliance or the day of the second Court ruling.

Under the IPPC directive, industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential must be licensed. These permits have been a legal requirement since 30 October 2007. In October 2010 the Commission took Sweden to Court as at least 26 installations had not yet been reconsidered or updated.

The Court ruled in favour of the Commission in March 2012, finding that Sweden was failing in its obligation to ensure that all installations operate in line with the requirements of the Directive. In the wake of that ruling, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice asking Sweden how it planned to comply with the judgment. After assessing the reply, the Commission concluded that two major installations (a steel factory and an ore mine) are still operating without the permits required under Article 5(1) of the Directive. As almost one year has passed since the judgement, and no indication has been given of when the situation might be regularised, the Commission is calling Sweden back to the Court and asking for fines.

In 2012, environmental infringements represented 29 % of all infringement cases concerning Sweden (up from 15 % in 2011).


The IPPC Directive (Directive 96/61/EC, codified by Directive 2008/1/EC) 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.

When a Member State has failed to comply fully with an EU Court judgement, the Commission has the power to take the Member State to the Court a second time and to ask for fines to be imposed.

For more information:

For more information about EU legislation on air pollution, see:

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

See also:

On the February infringement package decisions, see MEMO/13/122

On the general infringement procedure, see also MEMO/12/12

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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