NGO coalition backs tabled amendments to Industrial Emissions Directive

The amendments were tabled in preparation for the European Parliament environment committee vote on April 27th and 28th with the Plenary vote expected in July.

In an article published in the European Voice dated February 18th 2010, James Thornton from environmental law NGO Client Earth underlined the confusion caused by an article in the forthcoming Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which could be interpreted to bar member states from introducing national emission performance standards (EPS) for CO2.

Thornton explains that, in fact, according to the environment chapter of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, member states are entitled to introduce national measures more stringent than those set at the EU level. This Treaty provision means legislation such as the IED cannot be interpreted to bar member states from taking more stringent measures, Thornton argues.

However, a recent legal opinion on this matter which was subsequently produced for the chair of the environment committee ***(see right for document) failed to clarify this matter.

Given the difficulty of current EU Emission Trading Scheme to provide sufficient incentives for large long-term investments in low-carbon technologies such as CO2 capture and storage, Bellona believes it is essential that such confusion is dissipated and progressive member states are not held back from adopting more ambitious CO2 emission rules.

For this reason, two alternative sets of amendments to the IED were submitted by a diverse set of MEPs, including Finnish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Sirpa Pietikäinen from the centre-right EPP group, Swedish MEP Åsa Westlund from the S&D (social democrat) group, Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout from the Greens and British MEP Chris Davies from the Liberals.

Both sets make it clear that member states are not obliged but neither barred from introducing a national EPS. The first set of amendments does so through a rewording of an existing recital to the IED and of the proposed directive’s Article 9. The second one proposes only the introduction of a new recital to achieve the same effect ***(see right for amendments).

The European Parliament environment committee will vote on these amendments on April 27th-28th and the Parliament will vote in plenary in July. It is expected that the IED will only be adopted after a third reading by the two EU legislative institutions, the Parliament and the Council.