In accordance with its initiatives under the European Green Deal, the Commission is currently seeking public feedback on both its proposed update to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (‘IED’) and for the proposed implementation of the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan.

Introduced in 2019, the European Green Deal sets out the Commission’s ambitious strategy to addressing climate-related and environmental challenges across various industry sectors. Amongst other things, it commits the EU to revising existing measures to address pollution from large industrial installations, to ensure EU permitting laws are consistent with EU policies on climate, energy and circular economy. The EU is also committing to adopt a zero pollution action plan to meet the Commission’s zero pollution ambition.

Alongside the Zero Pollution Action Plan and the revision of measures to address pollution from large industrial installations, the third headline action on zero pollution is the chemical strategy for sustainability (published in October 2020). The publication of the chemical strategy was the first step towards achieving what the EU terms a ‘toxic-free environment’. The EU strategies on biodiversity, climate neutrality, and Farm to Fork are also key in achieving the zero pollution ambitions under the European Green Deal.

Proposed update to the IED and consultation

While acknowledging the success of the IED and proposing no changes in a baseline scenario policy option (see the Inception Impact Assessment, available here), the Commission has identified the following issues to be addressed as part of this initiative:

  • evaluation of other sectors for inclusion within the scope of the IED (for example, extractive industries and installation in sectors below current thresholds);
  • consideration of options for enhancing consistency of EU Member State implementation of the IED;
  • consideration of options to improve the Best Available Technique (BAT) Reference Document (BREF) elaboration process;
  • identifying and addressing any issues around access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice;
  • exploring the further potential for the IED to contribute to circular economy objectives;
  • considering options to support the transition to decarbonisation of industry; and
  • exploring how the IED can better support other EU legislation, including the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) Regulation (Regulation 166/2006) (Note, the E-PRTR is being evaluated in parallel).

The current public consultation focuses on the role of large (agro) industrial plants which, based on an evaluation of the IED in 2020 (amongst other things), were found to be continuing to contribute to pollution across the EU. Feedback is sought from a range of stakeholders on both general awareness and views on the environmental impact of large (agro) industrial activities on the environment and relevant measures to address this, and also more detailed feedback on the revision of provisions of the IED and the E-PRTR in this context.

Feedback to the consultation must be submitted through the Commission’s online portal (available here).

Proposed implementation of the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan and consultation

As part of the European Green Deal, the EU announced that it must move towards a zero pollution ambition. The Commission intends to adopt the Zero Pollution Action Plan in Q2 of 2021.

The aims of the zero pollution ambition are stated to be:

  • To better prevent and remedy pollution from air, water, soil, and consumer products;
  • To mainstream the zero pollution ambition into all policy developments;
  • To further decouple economic growth from rising pollution;
  • To strengthen the links between environmental protection, sustainable development and people’s well-being.

The roadmap for the Zero Pollution Action Plan (available here) outlined the four key areas to be explored:

  • How public authorities, businesses and citizens can use EU rules on pollution more effectively;
  • The improvement of existing legislation related to health and environment;
  • How monitoring and governance of pollution prevention and reduction policies can be improved both at EU and international level; and
  • Exploring digital solutions and other means to drive the shift to more sustainable solutions in society.

The public consultation asks for feedback on the impact of pollution on different actors and the environment, as well as for general views on how pollution should be tackled, and who should be responsible for it.

Feedback to the consultation must be submitted through the Commission’s online portal (available here).