Timmermans demands efficient permit processes but multiplies the requirements in Industrial Emission Directive, IED

The European Commission has now presented its proposal for a new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). In the proposal, the Commission suggest many new parameters to be regulated in the permits, risking a heavy burden on many Swedish companies. Jernkontoret's research officer Eva Blixt, one of the few Swedish IED experts, points to an imminent risk of an IED 2.0 that limits companies' ability to create growth, competitiveness and conditions for more sustainable production.

On Friday, April 1st , 2022, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission with responsibility for the European Green Deal, spoke at Norra Latin in Stockholm about The Green Deal and what is needed for a successful transformation. An important message was that the businesses that want to shift to fossil free production must not end up in long permit processes, Timmermans said.

Less than a week later, on April 5th, 2022, the Commission published the proposal for new IED legislation, the European Industrial Emissions Directive regulating permits. An overview of the proposal makes it clear that Timmerman's wish will not be fulfilled. Instead, the changes to the IED will limit companies' ability to create growth, competitiveness and, not least, the conditions for continuing to shift to more sustainable production.

– We have highlighted the risks of making IED an all-inclusive directive and the need to remain some of the directive’s flexibility already in the revision period. The transformation is already underway in the Swedish iron and steel industry. I am deeply concerned about how all these new requirements for so many new parameters combined with less flexibility will affect the efficiency both in the permit processes and for BREF-making in Seville as well as how it will affect our industry and the opportunities for transformation, says Eva Blixt, research manager at the Swedish Steel Industry Organization Jernkontoret and one of the few Swedish experts at IED

Instead of simplifying, the Commission's proposal calls for many new parameters to be regulated in the permits, such as innovations, chemicals, and transformation plans.

The strictest limit value for emissions will be mandatory and binding requirements for consumption of energy, water and materials will be introduced.

The main rule in the new proposal is that limit values should be at the lowest level in the range developed for associated emission levels achieved with the best available technology (BAT). 

– The lower end of the interval in BAT conclusions shows what is possible to achieve for an individual emission and for an individual process and an individual plant, but no installation can achieve all these values at the same time. There is always a balance to be made between different emissions, energy consumption and which techniques that fit in the individual case, Eva Blixt explains.

The proposal contains binding requirement levels for the use of materials, energy, and water, which until now have been recommended values and have not been included in IED legislation.

– Adding limit values for the use of energy and water also risks obstructing the transition and further reducing flexibility. More advanced steel products, which are thinner and more durable, use more water and more energy in the manufacturing process, but the products are resource efficient, says Eva Blixt.

All large facility must have a transformation plan.

The European Commissionpropose rules in the IED that will "facilitate" innovations, including binding requirements to establish transformation plans that describe how every facility is to be run clean, circular and climate neutral. The requirements in the plan are not determined until 2028. Ttransformation plans that exist today are usually at group level and depend on circumstances that the company does not always control, like new innovations, access to fossil free electricity, water and raw materials but also the state of the economy.

The Swedish authorities States shall require that by 30 June 2030 the operator to include a transformation plan in its environmental management and then ensure that it is implemented as early as December 31, 2031, The transformation plan must be reviewed and revised by the organization that revises the company's environmental management system.

Jernkontoret estimates that transformation plans at facility level will be a burden on the Swedish business community but also the Swedish authorities, as this will have to be done simultaneously with ongoing Swedish permit processes and ongoing updating of new BAT conclusions.

A few good ideas in the Commission's proposal

– There are many parts in Commission’s proposal which are very problematic for the iron and steel industry in Sweden. However, we support a few good ideas in the Commission's proposal, such as increasing the time from 9 to 24 months for testing emerging technologies (ET), maintaining Article 9 (1) governing the relationship between ETS and IED, and unchanged definitions of best available techniques (BAT) and (ET), Eva Blixt concludes.

Jernkontoret will share a more detailed comment on the European Commission's proposal when it has been analysed in its entirety together with the iron and steel companies and other industries in Sweden.

Please read Business Europe's comment here.  

More information (only in Swedish)