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IED vote: EU Parliament rejects key proposals to curb emissions

By: Kajsa Pira

MEPs agreed to improve emission reporting, but sided with the industry and farm lobby instead of taking action to protect citizens’ health and the environment.

In July, the EU Parliament voted to reject most of the recommendations of the Commission’s proposal for a revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). Instead of requiring environmental permits from all facilities with more than 150 Livestock Units (LSU) (in other words 150 adult cows, 375 calves, 10,000 laying hens, 500 pigs, or 300 sows), they decided to maintain the existing thresholds from 2010, i.e., 40,000 laying hens, 2,000 pigs, or 750 sows and no limit for cattle.

Liberal MEP Michal Wiezik commented to Euractive that the outcome of the vote is “the worst outcome hardly possible” and yet “another blow to the integrity of the European Green Deal”.

“The Parliament decided to water down and eliminate all significant improvements of the Proposal,” he said, “it is really tragic that [the European Parliament] is not willing to even consider the inclusion of the biggest and most intensive farms under the scope of IED.”

The Commission proposal would have targeted 13 per cent of EU livestock farms, but as much as 60 per cent of the ammonia emissions and 43 per cent of the methane emissions. The proposed rules were expected to generate 5.5 billion euro of environmental and health benefits for the EU every year.

“It is highly disappointing to see that a majority of European lawmakers chose to defend the vested interests of the livestock industry over the health of the people they’re supposed to represent. This result is a win for populist politics and a loss for everyone else,” said Célia Nyssens, at the EEB as response to the parliament decision.

Member states’ position on rules for livestock farms was agreed in March. It is less ambitious than the Commission’s proposal, but still contains some improvements compared to current rules, since they propose a threshold of 350 LSU for cattle and pigs, 280 LSU for poultry, and 350 LSU for mixed farms.

The Parliament also failed to protect citizens’ rights in the revised regulation. Citizens should have the right to seek compensation for health issues caused by illegal pollution, but current EU rules severely restrict this possibility. The newly adopted compensation right comes with a requirement for evidence from the affected party that makes it difficult to assert their right in practice.

In addition, the Parliament has rejected measures to integrate decarbonisation and energy efficiency and has supported a 2035 permit delay amendment. Member states are prevented from introducing greenhouse gas emission limits for all industries, without impacting the EU’s market-based emissions trading system. Furthermore, the adopted text hampers the consistent enforcement of EU laws regarding air and water quality standards.

The only positive outcomes from the vote concerned emission reporting. Firstly, the Parliament has endorsed improvements to the Industrial Emissions Portal, including the direct incorporation of vital information reported under the IED into the centralised European Environmental Agency Portal, making data extraction more user-friendly. Secondly, the text now categorises all PFAS chemicals as a group, subjecting them to monitoring and permit limits, and strengthens the Commission’s proposal for permit summaries and mandatory consumption reporting.

Kajsa Pira


EEB Press release 11 July 2023


Euractive 12 July 2023



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