Europe risks stifling innovation with the revised Industrial Emissions Directive

Yesterday the Council concluded negotiations on a revised Industrial Emissions Directive.

Photo: Jernkontoret/Pia Nordlander

– We appreciate the Swedish position on the importance of flexible resource use but regret that other member states do not share our view. The proposals risk stifling innovation and slowing the green transition, Jernkontoret, Sweden’s iron and steel producers’ association, IKEM, Innovation and Chemical Industries in Sweden, Swedish Forest Industries and Svemin, the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers, said in a joint statement.

The four industry organisations have together swiftly reviewed the proposals from the Council and are concerned that the revised Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) may result in detailed controls that inhibit this vital transition. They write:

“We note that the binding requirement for resource use is unchanged, but that potential exceptions have been introduced.

We are deeply concerned that these requirements will reduce flexibility and inhibit innovation. We believe that binding requirements for resources will make the green transition more difficult because many products that are more sustainable and of higher quality require more resources. The proposals will be counterproductive in that they favour only simpler processes and products – rather than advanced production processes that take place in Sweden, for example.

It is impossible to have a facility that meets all the “lowest possible emissions” criteria. Consideration must be given to what is most environmentally efficient for each unique facility and location. The proposals risk implying that all decisions that must be taken to obtain a higher value than the “lowest possible emissions” will result in legal action. This throws into doubt the efficient permitting processes required to achieve the green transition.

The level of detail in terms of requirements included in the revised directive risks choking off investment and at the same time considerably complicating Swedish permit processes. To meet the EU’s climate goals, increase resource efficiency and contribute to a circular economy, businesses need to be able to optimise their use of resources and contribute to the best possible environmental benefits in society.

It is appropriate that existing legal principles are followed, such as dropping the proposal to introduce reverse burden of proof. Similarly, we welcome the proposal for detailed transitional rules regarding when different BAT conclusions come into effect, which Sweden developed.

We will need to continue to work actively to establish a functioning approvals system in the EU and Sweden.”

Eva Blixt, Researcher Manager and Senior Advisor, Jernkontoret
Rebecca Wennerberg, Environmental Lawyer, IKEM – Innovation and Chemical Industries in Sweden
Helena Sjögren, Director of Environmental Policy, Swedish Forest Industries
Kristina Branteryd, Director Environment, Svemin


This is the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED):

The IED was initially intended to regulate industrial emissions, but it is now proposed to expand to include resource use, circular economy and innovation. The goal is to reduce industry’s impact on human health and the environment. This must be achieved, for example, through a comprehensive review of permit processes based on the principle of applying the best available technologies. The IED is what is known as a minimum directive. This means that EU member states have the right to maintain or introduce stricter, but not more lenient, requirements than those included in the Directive. Some 50,000 facilities across Europe will be subject to the new law, including 1,200 in Sweden.