T he European Commission is referring Slovenia back to Court for its failure to license industrial installations that are operating without permits. Such permits should only be issued if a number of environmental criteria are met. In 2010 the Court ruled that Slovenia was failing in its obligation to ensure that all installations operate in line with EU rules on pollution prevention and control. Four years after that judgement, a major cement factory is still operating without the necessary permit, and potentially endangering citizens’ health. The Commission is asking for a daily penalty payment of EUR 9,009 from today until the obligations are fulfilled and a lump sum of EUR 1,604,603.
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 for all IPPC installations existing on the date of Slovenia’s accession to the EU. Although considerable progress has been made since the 2010 Court ruling, full compliance with the judgment has still not been reached.
The Commission is therefore referring Slovenia back to the European Court of Justice, and asking for fines to be imposed.
The IPPC Directive 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 and pollutant emissions kept to a minimum, 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.
Although the IPPC Directive has now been replaced by the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), the obligations and deadlines of the IPPC Directive remain valid under the new Directive.
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 for the second time and to ask for fines to be imposed.