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Industrial Emissions Directive

Preventing and controlling industrial emissions


Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of the overall pollution in Europe. This is due to emissions of air pollutants, discharges of wastewater and generation of waste. To address this issue, the EU adopted the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) in 2010.


The Industrial Emissions Directive aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU.


The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is the main EU instrument regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations.

Around 52,000 installations undertaking the industrial activities listed in Annex I of the Directive are required to operate in accordance with a permit (granted by the authorities in the Member States). This permit should contain conditions set in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Directive.

The IED is based on several pillars. 

The integrated approach means that permits must take the whole environmental performance of the plant into account. This covers emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure.

The permit conditions including emission limit values must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). In order to define BAT and the BAT-associated environmental performance at EU level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts from Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This work is co-ordinated by the European IPPC Bureau at the EU Joint Research Centre in Seville (Spain). This process results in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs); the BAT conclusions contained are adopted by the Commission as Implementing Decisions. The IED requires that these BAT conclusions are the reference for setting permit conditions.

For certain activities, i.e. large combustion plants, waste incineration and co-incineration plants, solvent using activities and titanium dioxide production, the IED also sets EU wide emission limit values for selected pollutants.

The IED allows competent authorities some flexibility to set less strict emission limit values. This is possible only in specific cases where an assessment shows that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to the geographical location or the local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation. The competent authority shall always document its justification for granting such derogations. Furthermore, Chapter III of the IED on large combustion plants includes certain flexibility instruments (Transitional National Plan, limited lifetime derogation, etc.).

The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member States shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit to take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria.

The IED ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to permit applications, permits and the results of the monitoring of releases.

Through the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR), emission data reported by Member States are made accessible in a public register. This provides environmental information on major industrial activities.


In 2022, the Commission adopted proposals to revise the IED and the E-PRTR. The proposals aim to improve the Directive by increasing the focus on energy, water and material efficiency and reuse, in addition to promoting the use of safer, less toxic or non-toxic chemicals in industrial processes. The revised Directive on industrial emissions will:

  • Ensure full and consistent implementation of the IED across Member States, with tighter permit controls on air and water emissions;
  • Increase investment in new, cleaner technologies taking into account energy use, resource efficiency and water reuse whilst avoiding lock-in to obsolete technologies;
  • Support more sustainable growth of sectors that are key to building a clean, low carbon and circular economy;
  • Cover additional intensive farming and industrial activities, ensuring that sectors with significant potential for high resource use or pollution also curb environmental damage at source by applying Best Available Techniques;
  • Establish an Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions (INCITE);
  • Integrate the previously separate requirements for depollution and de-carbonisation so that future pollution control investments take better account of greenhouse gas emissions, resource efficiency and water reuse.
  • Enhance data transparency and public access to environmental information by making permit summaries available online and providing more opportunities for public participation in the setting and review of permits.

The revision of the IED provides a framework for the operation of EU industrial installations that is in line with the European Green Deal  and the zero pollution action plan

A Factsheet and Questions & Answers accompany the proposals.

Impact assessment

The Commission undertook an impact assessment to examine the need for EU action to address IED implementation shortcomings and to analyse the possible impacts of available solutions. This provided evidence to inform the Commission in its decision-making for proposing revisions to the IED.

Key milestones in the impact assessment included:

  • An Inception Impact Assessment described the range of options to be assessed. The design of the options and the assessment of their impacts were subject to refinement and contribution through stakeholder consultations.
  • An Open Public Consultation was undertaken via the Commission’s Have Your Say website.
  • A Targeted Stakeholder Survey addressed more specific questions to IED experts and stakeholders.
  • Interactive engagement occurred via a kick-off stakeholder workshop (15 December 2020) and a final workshop (7 July 2021).

The main consultant reports supporting the Impact Assessment are available here.


The IED evaluation, supported by several studies, showed that the Directive has contributed to reducing pollutant emissions from industry, especially to air, and has helped shape strong environmental standards among Member States, industry and environmental NGOs. On the other hand, there is still work to be done regarding decarbonisation and the circular economy, improving key provisions on permitting and controlling industrial plants, and securing more transparent and effective access to environmental information as well as participation in decision making on IED permits by civil society representatives.


The implementation of the Industrial Emissions Directive by EU Member States is supported by a number of bodies. Several implementing decisions and guidance have been published to support implementation.

The Article 13 Forum

Article 13 of the Industrial Emissions Directive requires the Commission to organise an exchange of information between various actors: Member States, the industries concerned, non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection and the Commission. The aim is to draw up, review and, where necessary, update Best Available Techniques (BAT) reference documents (BREFs).

The Commission has established a forum composed of representatives of Member States, the industries concerned and non-governmental organisations promoting environmental protection. The Commission obtains and makes publicly available the opinion of the forum on the proposed content. The Commission takes this opinion into account when adopting the BAT conclusions.

This forum has been created as a formal expert group through a Commission decision. See the Expert Group Register website for the IED Article 13 forum.

For more information on the activities of the forum:

The Article 75 Committee

According to Article 75 of the Directive, the Commission shall be assisted by a committee. This committee has the competence to deliver opinions on implementing acts including BAT conclusions. The Committee operates in accordance with the examination procedure (Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011). After a positive opinion on draft implementing decisions, these are adopted by the Commission and published in the Official Journal. All finalised BREFs and adopted BAT conclusions can be accessed here.

The Industrial Emissions Expert Group (IEEG)

To facilitate the exchange of experience and good practice concerning interpretation, transposition and implementation of the IED, and to advise the Commission during the preparation of delegated acts, Member State experts meet in the Industrial Emissions Expert Group (IEEG). The IEEG operates in an informal setting without any formal rules of procedure. See information on meetings of the IEEG.

Online platform for sharing information on the IED implementation

This platform has been set up to provide a space for Member States and competent authorities representatives to discuss, exchange knowledge and experience and access resources related to the implementation of the IED. The platform can be accessed here.

In case of questions please contact IED_ImplementationatRicardo [dot] com (IED_Implementation[at]Ricardo[dot]com).

Guidance and implementing rules

The Commission has:

Reports by the Commission

IED Article 73 requires the Commission to report on the implementation of the Directive on the basis of information provided by Member States. The first of these reports was adopted by the Commission in December 2017. The second  report, published in December 2021, sheds light on implementation issues in more than 52 000 industrial installations across Europe between 2013 and 2018. Further information can be found in this press release.

IED Articles 30(9) and 73 require the Commission to review the need to control emissions from certain types of animal rearing and combustion plants and to report the results. The reviews are available here and the report was adopted by the Commission in May 2013.

IED Article 76 requires the Commission to report on the exercise of the power to adopt delegated acts conferred on it. The first report was adopted by the Commission in June 2015 and the second in July 2020. 

Provisions for large combustion plants

A combustion plant is a technical apparatus in which fuel is oxidised to use the heat generated. Large Combustion Plants (LCPs) have a total rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used.

LCPs are responsible for a large amount of emissions of air pollutants. This is why the IED contains special provisions for LCPs. The IED and its special provisions related to LCPs have achieved significant reductions in LCP pollutant emissions in recent years.

Chapter III and Annex V of the IED set the minimum requirements for certain pollutant emissions from LCPs.These minimum requirements apply without prejudice to the provisions of Chapter II of the IED. In particular, permits for LCPs need to be in line with the LCP BAT conclusions as laid out in Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2017/1442. These BAT conclusions establish performance levels associated with BATs and include monitoring requirements.

Minimum requirements 

1. Aggregation rules

In cases where the waste gases of two or more combustion plants are, or could be, discharged through a common stack, the aggregation rules of Article 29 of the IED define whether and when such a combination of plants shall be considered as a single combustion plant. For the purpose of calculating the total rated thermal input, combustion plants with a rated thermal input below 15 MW shall not be considered. More information is provided in the questions answered on CIRCABC.

2. Emission limit values

Until their permits are updated in line with the LCP BAT conclusions, LCP emission limit values are set out in Annex V to the IED. The applicable values are determined in relation to the total rated thermal input of the entire combustion plant.

  • Part 1 of Annex V applies for LCPs granted a permit before 7 January 2013, or for which the operator submitted a complete application before that date, provided that the plants were in operation no later than 7 January 2014.
  • Part 2 of Annex V applies for all other LCPs, as well as for LCPs granted an exemption under Article 4(4) of Directive 2001/80/EC.

Where an LCP is extended or changed, the emission limit values in Part 2 of Annex V (in relation to the total rated thermal input of the entire LCP) apply to the part of the plant affected by the change.

LCPs firing indigenous solid fuel may not be able to comply with the SO2 emission limit values set in Annex V due to the fuel characteristics. They may instead apply a minimum rates of desulphurisation set out in Part 5 of Annex V, subject to prior validation by the competent authority of a technical report with a justification.

In the case of a multi-fuel firing combustion plant, the emission limit values shall be set in accordance with Article 40 of the IED or, where applicable, Part 7 of Annex V.

3. Monitoring and compliance assessment

Monitoring of air polluting substances must be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Part 3 of IED Annex V. The IED emission limit values to air shall be regarded as being complied with if the conditions set out in Part 4 of Annex V are fulfilled.

Emission inventories 

The Commission published a summary of EU emission inventories for LCPs established since the 2004 reporting year, covering each three-year period until 2012. From 2013, Member States were required to report annually on the energy input and sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust emissions of all LCPs. More information on emissions and energy use in LCPs in Europe can be found in the European Environment Agency’s web page on indicators of emissions to air from LCPs.

Information on annual emissions from large combustion plants and other industrial sources is also available through the Industrial Emissions Portal.

Transitional arrangements

Limited lifetime derogations (Article 33) were available to the operator of an LCP who undertook, in a written declaration submitted to the competent authority before 1 January 2014, not to operate the plant more than 17 500 hours between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2023. The number of hours operated must be reported annually. LCPs were only eligible if they had not been granted an exemption under Article 4(4) of Directive 2001/80/EC.

Further information is available on CIRCABC.

Information on other transitional arrangements (Articles 32, 34 and 35) now expired is available on CIRCABC.


Leaflets, studies and compelling reports on industrial emissions can be found here.


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.