European Parliament and Member State negotiators reached an agreement on the revision of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPCi) on Friday, 18 June. The deal will lead to the Industrial Emissions Directive, incorporating IPPC and six other pollution laws. The agreement must now be formally adopted by the Parliament’s full assembly and the Council of Ministers before becoming law. This deal is among Spain’s main environmental achievements during its EU Presidency.
The biggest disputes between governments and MEPs had been on how much leeway plants should be given on applying best available techniques. The European Parliament had wanted tightly-defined European standards, while environment ministers had insisted on the need for flexibility. In the end, the ministers mostly won this battle.
Under the deal, the two conditions for deviating from best available techniques (BATi) – geographical location or local environmental conditions and technical characteristics – should also show that applying BAT would lead to “disproportionately high costs” compared to the environmental benefits.
The negotiators dropped a safeguard clause introduced by MEPs that would prevent national authorities from granting BAT derogations that would cause significant damage to the environment. The deal backs minimum emission limit values proposed by German Liberal MEP Holger Krahmer for sectors with a high environmental impact or where BAT is not properly implemented. The limits will be decided though the co-decision procedure following sectoral assessments. No deadline has been set for the first reports.
The European Parliament was also forced to give in to governments on extending the life of large combustion plants. Holger Krahmer, a German Liberal MEP, who led negotiations for the European Parliament, said: “The discussion on large combustion plants is a European tragedy.” Mr Krahmer agreed, however, that “the agreement was an improvement on the existing Directive”, but he conceded that “it is not a big jump”. “We have to accept that more from the current position is not achievable,” he said.
Germany, Austria, Ireland and Denmark had criticised the Directive for its lack of ambition and refused to support the common ministerial position agreed earlier this year. Germany’s deputy ambassador to the EU told his counterparts that Germany was still unhappy with the flexibility in the Directive, but that Germany would not block it.
“We would have hoped for more discipline and fewer exemptions... but it certainly is a step forward and when Parliament and Council are finding a basis for agreement, we cannot stand in the way,” said Karl Falkenberg, the director-general of the European Commission’s environment department. The Parliament will vote on the draft law in July and ministers have to give a formal rubber stamp in the autumn, but neither process is expected to stop the law getting into the EU’s rule book before the end of the year.
As far as the cement industry specifics are concerned, the technical provisions relating to waste incineration plants and waste co-incineration plants, i.e. the exemption for NOxi and the provision CO for cement kilns, are secured.
The Commission’s original proposal can be found here:
Interested in receiving our Eurobrief? Subscribe now!
Interested in receiving our press releases? Subscribe now!