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Guide to the Approximation of European Union Environmental Legislation

Part 2

Overview of EU environmental legislation

F. Industrial Pollution Control and Risk Management

These directives and regulations cover three areas: control of industrial emissions, control of major accident hazards, and environmental audits and eco-labelling.

The first area includes directives which establish requirements for permits for the operation of certain industrial facilities so as to control releases to air and water and wastes. The directives include the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive 96/61/EEC (IPPC), the Emissions from Large Combustion Plants Directive 88/609/EEC covers emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates and establishes targets for the reduction of total emissions from each Member State, and the Air Pollution from Industrial Plants Directive 84/360/EEC – a framework directive which will be replaced by the much broader IPPC Directive in 2007.

The second area covers the Seveso Directive 96/82/EC, named after a town in Italy that was the site of a major accidental release of toxic gas. This directive, which has been a model for similar legislation outside of Europe, requires industrial plant operators to identify major accident hazards and take steps to control them and to limit their effects. It will replace the previous Directive 82/501/EEC in 1999.

The third area covers the regulations on Eco-management and Audit Scheme EMAS 1836/93/EEC and on eco-label 880/92/EEC. The EMAS Regulation encourages the voluntary participation of industrial plants in the development of internal environmental management systems and audit programmes as a means to improve their environmental performance. The eco-label Regulation establishes an EU eco-label award scheme which is intended to promote the design, production, marketing and use of products with a reduced environmental impact during their entire life cycle. The eco-label gives consumers information about the environmental impacts of products.


F.1 Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control

The goal of the directive is to achieve integrated prevention and control of pollution arising from a wide range of activities by means of measures to prevent or, where that is not practicable, to reduce emissions from industrial facilities to air, water and land, including measures concerning waste, in order to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole.

All activities covered by the Directive require a permit. Member States may issue a single permit for releases to air, water and waste from an industrial facility, or issue multiple permits which are integrated through a co-operation procedure involving several permitting authorities. As well as imposing emission limits in environmental permits, Member States must ensure that the permits contain measures designed to ensure that following basic requirements are met:

all appropriate preventive measures are taken against pollution, in particular though the application Best Available Techniques (BAT)

no significant pollution is caused

waste production is avoided; where waste is produced it should be recovered or, where that is technically and economically impossible, disposed of while avoiding or reducing any impact on the environment

energy is used efficiently

the necessary measures are taken to prevent accidents and limit their consequences

the necessary measures are taken upon definite cessation of activities to avoid any pollution risk and return the site of operation to a satisfactory state.

Permits must in particular include emission limit values based on BAT, taking into consideration the potential for transfer of pollution from one medium to another. Other requirements to protect soil and groundwater and concerning waste management must be laid down if necessary. In addition, permits must contain the supplementary requirements necessary to prevent breaches of any environmental quality standard.

These requirements apply to new installations from October 1999 and to existing installations from October 2007.

Authorities must reconsider periodically and when necessary update permit conditions.

An inventory of the principal emissions and sources will be published by the Commission on the basis of data supplied by Member States.

Implementation considerations
  1. Identify sites within the scope of the directive.
  2. The IPPC Directive presupposes that countries have developed administrative institutions to issue environmental permits for industrial operations and scientific knowledge to administer and control regimes for the environmental management of a number of industrial sectors.
  3. In evaluating implementation needs, compare the IPPC permit requirements and processes to existing national laws on environmental permitting in relation to environmental quality and emission standards.
  4. As the administrative knowledge and capacity needed to implement the directive will be considerable, give consideration to ways of phasing in the EU requirements according to the availability of the capacity for implementation.
  5. A good starting point is to evaluate the capacity of the existing administration to carry out the responsibilities laid down by the directive, including pollution prevention, waste avoidance, recovery and safe disposal, efficient energy use, accident prevention and de-commissioning guidelines procedures and standards.
  6. Industry representatives from the energy, metal production and processing minerals, chemicals, waste management and other interested sectors should be consulted on implementation so as to smooth the way to full compliance with the new permits.
  7. Permits may be issued at national, regional or local level. For small and medium enterprises it may be appropriate to pass the permitting on to local government whilst reserving permits for large-scale plants to regional or national authorities.
  8. Competent authorities must define the permits based on evaluations of the design of the entire plant rather than end-of-pipe standards.
  9. Competent authorities must ensure that all permits contain requirements for protecting land, air and water from environmental damage. This should involve a detailed account of how to identify and monitor air emissions.
  10. The implementing states should define penalties for failure to co-operate with the competent authorities and inspectors, as well as for breaches of permit requirements. It may be appropriate to require financial bonds from industrial operators to cover decommissioning costs.
  11. Public participation and the dissemination of public information are vital components of the directive. One means of making permitting information available is by posting a register of decisions and permits in relevant government offices and libraries. Linkages should be made between these requirements and the implementation of the Access to Environmental Information Directive.
  12. Governments should consider how to phase in the requirements under the Directive on Air pollution from industrial plants and the Directive on discharges of Dangerous substances to water into the permits issued under the IPPC Directive over the eleven years after the IPPC directive comes into force ( 30 October 1996).

IPPC Directive – Implementation considerations

National Legislative Framework
  • Compare directive's requirements to existing national laws.
  • Identify legislative gaps.
  • Options:
  • One national law (IPPC Act)
  • Amendments to existing permitting laws for different media and activities (air, water, waste, soil protection, land use legislation)
Competent Authorities (CAs)
  • National level CA must ensure consistency of permit standards for all media, Best Available Techniques for industrial sectors.
  • Procedures and criteria for evaluation of permit applications, guidelines for industrial sectors and permitting authorities should be developed
  • Identification of sites under the directive.
Legal Checkpoints
  • Pay special attention to definition of best available techniques
  • Understand compliance requirements under these existing sectoral directives pending and also after full implementation of IPPC Directive
  • Establish sanctions for damage to health and environment.
The Permitting Process
  • Implement the IPPC permit procedure requirements for all new installations.
  • Apply an 'integrated' approach to the grant of authorisations to installations.
  • Be aware of any changes in the activities of sites with permits.
  • Develop standard comprehensive information form for permit applicants.
  • Consider possible relationship between environmental impact assessment and IPPC procedures.
  • Ensure that prior to the granting of a permit, stakeholders and the public are informed and are given an opportunity to participate in decision-making process.
  • CAs should provide information to the public concerning the industrial activity and its potential human health and environmental effects.
Financial Considerations
  • Government sets up CA and administrative support, provides information to stakeholders and the public.
  • Permit applicants to pay administrative costs for the permit.

Examples of the Allocation of Responsibilities for Permitting

Country Issue Permits Monitor & Inspect Enforce Prosecute
France Prefect (Regional office of the Central Government Environmental Inspectorate, Water Police Prefect Prefect
Germany Regional Authority (Lander) Regional Authority Prosecutor Prosecutor
Denmark Regional or Local Authority Regional or Local Authority Regional or Local Authority Police
UK Environment Agency Environment Agency Environment Agency Environment Agency

F.2 Air Pollution from Industrial Plants

Directive 84/360/EEC on the combating of air pollution from industrial plants is a framework directive, which will be replaced by the IPPC Directive in 2007 (See above). Member States must ensure that the types of industrial plants listed in Annex I obtain prior authorisation from the designated national or regional competent authority before beginning operation or before any substantial alteration to the plant. Industrial plants serving national defence purposes are exempt from the directive.

An authorisation may only be issued when the competent authority is satisfied that: all appropriate measures against air pollution have been taken, including the application of Best available technology not entailing excessive cost (BATNEEC); the use of the plant will not cause significant air pollution, particularly of the substances listed in Annex II of the Directive; none of the applicable emission limit values is exceeded; and all applicable air quality limit values are taken into account.

Applications for authorisations and the decisions of the competent authorities must be made available to the public and to other concerned Member States within the framework of their bilateral relations.

Member States must monitor emissions from industrial plants impose conditions on them, taking into account the economic situation of the plants. They must adopt policies to ensure that existing plants covered by Annex I are gradually adapted to the best available technology. They may adopt stricter provisions.

Implementation considerations
  1. Government authorities will need a continuous effort to collect data regarding emissions from authorised installations, environmental quality data and BATNEEC for different industrial sectors and production processes.
  2. Consider how to manage the transition from the permitting requirements of this directive to the IPPC directive.
  3. Consider how to define and update guidance on BATNEEC across different industrial sectors and activities: advice may be provided by the European Commission and by the Member States.

F.3 Large Combustion Plants

Directive 88/609/EEC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants was the first directive to be adopted under the framework Directive 84/360/EEC on the combating of air pollution from industrial plants. It applies to combustion plants for the production of energy with a thermal input of 50 Megawatts (MW) or more. The goal is to reduce emissions of SO2 , NOx and dust from these large combustion plants.This is to be accomplished by means of a combination of provisons concerning global emissions from existing plants and strict emission limits on new plants.

For existing plants, national ceilings for SO2 and NOx are set according to gradual steps (1993, 1998, 2003).

Member States had to draw up programmes for the phased reduction of total annual emissions of SO2 and NOx from existing plants, i.e plants whose original operating licence was granted before 1 July 1987.

For new plants, or plants whose capacity have been extended by 50 MW or more, licences for the construction or operation must contain conditions for compliance with emission limit values for SO2 , NOx and dust and appropriate conditions for discharge of waste gases. Member States may impose tighter requirements.

If a new plant is likely to have significant effects on the environment in another Member State, the Member State must ensure that the other Member State is consulted appropriately under Directive 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (See Section A – Horizontal Legislation).

Implementation considerations
  1. Countries will need to determine total annual emissions from new as well as existing plants. This will include reporting by operators of combustion plants and scientific institutions working on behalf of the governments.
  2. National emission reduction targets will have to be agreed with the European Union, and programmes have to be developed for reducing annual emissions from existing major combustion plants to achieve the national emission reduction targets. Those programmes need to be developed in close co-operation with the operators of the plans concerned.
  3. Options for reducing emissions must be identified and reviewed. These might include fuel switching, energy conservation, energy saving measures and pollution abatement technologies. Careful analysis of financing limitations and opportunities will be important.
  4. All licences for new plants (or extensions exceeding 50MW) have to requirements, including emission limit values for SO2 , NOx and dust, requirements concerning measurement methods and equipment and requirements on what to do in case of failure of control devices, etc. Existing authorisations need to be reviewed in this regard.

F. 4 Proposed Directive on VOC emissions from industry

A proposal for a Directive on limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvent in certain industrial activities, COM(96) 538 - final, is currently before the Council and the European Parliament.

The objective of the Proposal is to reduce the emissions of VOCs from stationary sources and, hence, to reduce tropospheric ozone. The Proposal aims at an emission cut of at least 50 % (by 2010, compared to 1990 levels) for some 20 main types of solvent-using activities. For each of these industrial sectors, it defines emission reduction targets by means of emission limit values to be achieved either by appropriate abatement technologies or by substitution solutions (low-solvent or solvent free technologies). Member States have the option to design and implement an alternative national plan achieving the same reduction.

Implementation considerations
  1. Identify sites within the scope of the Directive
  2. Countries need to establish monitoring and enforcement systems for meeting the emission limitations.
  3. Countries must identify the installations which will need to be authorised, and those which will be registered.
  4. When considering whether to use the option of a national plan, Member States should carefully assess the need for technical and industrial knowledge and administrative capacity in order to design and implement the plan , which is likely to be considerable.
  5. Prior consultation with industry and other interested groups is advised.

F.5 'Seveso' Directive on the Control of Major-Accident Hazards

In 1999, Directive 96/82/EEC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances will replace the old 'Seveso' Directive 82/501/EEC, which was developed following the 1976 accident in Italy. The 1982 Directive contained a set of obligations for industrial plant operators as well as national authorities and the European Commission aimed at identifying and controlling the risks of major accidents from industrial installations. The new 'Seveso II' Directive has a broadened and simplified scope and strengthens the safety management and the emergency planning requirements imposed on operators of certain industrial plants. Provisions on inspection and control by competent authorities are reinforced and a new provision has been introduced, obliging the responsible authorities to take account of the objectives of the Directive in their land-use planning.

Whether an establishment falls within the scope of the Seveso II Directive will be solely determined by the presence of specified dangerous substances in sufficiently large quantities to create a major accident hazard. Installations covered by this Directive and located close to each another have to co-operate in averting risks and preventing domino effects such as a fire at one installation spreading to others.

In order to improve safety and reduce the risk of human error, operators of industrial installations concerned will have to develop a policy for major accident prevention as well as a safety management system. The operator must prepare a safety report and an internal emergency plan. The national competent authorities must prepare an external emergency plan, co-operating across borders where this is necessary to prevent or respond to major accidents..

Member States must prohibit the use of industrial installations where the prevention and mitigation measures taken by the operator are seriously deficient or where the operator does not submit the required information to the competent authority within a reasonable period of time. Public access to information is strengthened. A system of inspections must be organised by the competent authorities.

Implementation considerations
  1. Administrative knowledge and capacity needed to implement the new Directive are considerable. As a first step, competent authorities need to be identified at national and at local level.
  2. Procedures need to be put in place to ensure that all existing and new installations with major-accident hazards potential have taken the measures needed to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences. This requires the establishment of a registration system for notifications and the ability to assess the safety reports submitted.
  3. Local authorities are responsible for drawing up external emergency plans. The development of these emergency plans requires as a basis the internal emergency plan to be supplied by the operator containing information on the establishment and the specific arrangements for emergencies. Persons liable to be affected by a major accident need to be informed. Both, internal and external emergency plans need to be practically tested and reviewed. In case of an accident, interventions need to be co-ordinated.
  4. Collecting and disseminating information on accidents and near-misses is essential to allow to improve prevention methods and emergency response procedures. Procedures for the collection, exchange and dissemination of information need to be defined and established.
  5. Competent authorities need to set up a programme of inspections based upon either a systematic appraisal of major-accident hazards of the establishments concerned or one on-site-inspection per year.

(Further information on the implementation of the Seveso directive is available from the Major Accident Hazards Bureau at the Joint Research Centre.)

F.5 Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

Regulation 1836/93/EEC sets up a voluntary eco-management and audit scheme for participating industrial companies which seeks to reward and promote better environmental performance of industrial activities. The scheme requires participating sites to:

establish and implement policies, programmes and management systems

audit the performance of their site; and,

provide environmental performance reports to the public.

It applies to manufacturing, energy and recycling industry sites and may be extended to other sites on an experimental basis. Participants must take the following steps:

adopt an environmental policy - it should include compliance with regulatory instruments, continued improvement in environmental performance, and the reduction of environmental impacts

conduct an environmental review of the site

introduce an environmental programme and environmental management system

carry out an environmental audit within a maximum cycle of three years;

prepare a publicly available environmental statement including in particular details of site-based environmental impacts.

conduct an independent verification of the environmental statement through independent verifiers accredited under the national accreditation systems.

National or international environmental management and audit systems other than the EMAS may be considered as equivalent if they are identified in the Official Journal of the European Community.

Implementation considerations

Although regulations may not be transposed into national law, countries do need to take certain administrative steps to give them effect on the date of entry into the European Union:

  1. Establish a system for the accreditation and supervision of accredited environmental verifiers. The setting up and direction of the accreditation systems requires the consultation of the parties involved.
  2. Send an updated list of accredited environmental verifiers every 6 months to the Commission.
  3. Acceding countries may, as an option, apply provisions analogous to the Eco-Management and Audit scheme (ISO 14001 or a national environmental management and audit scheme) prior to joining the European Union.
  4. The EMAS Regulation requires Member States to set up competent bodies which are in charge of the registration of sites and of communicating the list of the registered sites to the Commission. The composition of these bodies is required to be such that it guarantees their independence and neutrality.



Further information on EMAS

F.6 Eco-Label

Regulation 880/92/EEC on a EU eco-label award scheme seeks to promote the design, production, marketing and use of products which have reduced environmental impacts during their life cycles. The regulation also seeks to provide consumers with better information on the environmental impact of products. It does not apply to food, drink or pharmaceuticals, dangerous substances under Directives 67/548/EEC or 88/379/EEC, or to products manufactured using processes which are likely to cause significant harm to man or the environment.

Conditions for the awards for each product group are to be determined by a Committee of Member State representatives after a consultation process involving interested groups from industry, commerce, consumer and environmental organisations. Product group eco-label criteria last three years and are determined according to life cycle assessments of product groups based on the maintenance of a high level of environmental protection.

So far, eco-label criteria have been determined for: Dishwashers, Soil improvers, Toilet paper, Paper kitchen rolls, Laundry detergents, Single-ended light bulbs, Indoor paints and varnishes, Bed-linen and T-shirts, Double-ended light bulbs, Washing machines, Copying paper, and Refrigerators.

Further information is available on the Eco-label homepage.

Implementation considerations
  1. Although regulations may not be transposed into national law, Member States will need to designate a competent body, whose composition is to guarantee its independence and neutrality, to receive the eco-label applications, assess the environmental performance of the product in relation to specified criteria, and decide on the award of the eco-label.
  2. Ensure that consumers and undertakings are informed about the eco-label award scheme.
  3. In order for the eco-label scheme to be successful, it needs to be known by the consumer and supported by industry or retailers. Consultation and information campaigns in support of the scheme are almost a prerequisite for its success.