The Commission's services, notably the Directorate-Generals (DGs) for Environment and Enterprise, are currently finalising a difficult inter-service consultation on the revision of the IPPC Directive.
According to EU industry group BusinessEurope, which is following the discussions closely, DG Environment is pushing for a tougher measures in order to cut down on industrial emissions as part of wider efforts to meet EU CO2 reduction commitments.
One idea on the table is to make the BREFs binding documents rather than non-binding reference texts, which means that certain pollution prevention and control techniques agreed at EU level would become harmonised and mandatory rather than suggestive.
This would represent a significant departure from current rules, which state that "technical characteristics of the installation concerned, its geographical location and the local environmental conditions" can be "taken into account" by member-state authorities when permits are drawn up.
The Commission, which laments a "constraint on the use of more flexible instruments such as NOx and SO2 emissions trading systems", is also considering adding an emissions trading component for pollutants not considered to be greenhouse gases.
Due to "important shortcomings in the implementation of the current legislation that hinder the full exploitation of the environmental potential originally intended by the directive", the Commission has stated that it will pursue "all necessary actions to ensure that the directive is correctly transposed, including through infringement cases to ensure full and correct transposition of the legislation".