Tag Archives: Environmental impact

Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage

Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Soil protection

Carbon dioxide capture and geological storage

2). This new legislative framework aims at preventing or, and where that is not possible, minimising the harmful effects of CO2 emissions and all environmental and health risks.

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2009/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the geological storage of carbon dioxide and amending Council Directive 85/337/EEC, European Parliament and Council Directives 2000/60/EC, 2001/80/EC, 2004/35/EC, 2006/12/EC, 2008/1/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006.


The objective of this Directive is to establish a legal framework for environmentally safe geological storage of carbon dioxide in order to contribute to tackling climate change.

The Directive applies to the geological storage of CO2 within the territory of the Member States, in their exclusive economic zones and on their continental shelves.

This Directive does not apply to the geological storage of CO2 with a capacity of less than 100 kilo tonnes.

The storage of CO2 in a water column or in a storage site with a storage complex extending beyond the territory, in the exclusive economic zones or in the continental shelves of Member States is not permitted.

Selection and exploration of storage sites

A geological formation is selected as a storage site only if, under the proposed conditions of use, there is no significant risk of leakage and no significant environmental or health risks exist.

The suitability of a geological formation for use as a storage site is determined through a characterisation and assessment of the potential storage complex and surrounding area pursuant to the criteria specified in Annex I to this Directive. The characterisation of a site is carried out in three stages:

  • Step 1: data collection on the site (geology, hydrogeology, seismicity, etc.) and its surroundings (population, proximity to resources or protected sites, etc.);
  • Step 2: building computer models from the data collected in order to characterise the different aspects of the sites (geological structure, geomechanical and geochemical properties, available volume, etc.);
  • Step 3: characterisation of the storage dynamic behaviour, sensitivity characterisation and risk assessment.

The exploration required in order to obtain the information needed for selecting a storage site cannot be carried out without a permit. The permit is issued by the competent authority in each Member State for the period necessary to carry out the exploration of the site. However, an extension may be granted to complete the exploration concerned. The holder of an exploration permit has the sole right to explore the potential CO2 storage complex. Member States ensure that no conflicting uses of the complex are permitted during the period of validity of the permit.

Storage permits

No storage site may be used without a permit. Applications for storage permits must be sent to the competent authority of each Member State and must contain certain information on the operator, the characterisation of the storage site and storage complex and an assessment of the expected security of the storage, the total quantity of CO2 to be injected and the composition of CO2 streams, the preventative measures, a proposed monitoring plan, the corrective measures, a proposed provisional post-closure plan, proof of financial security, etc.

The competent authority must check that the requirements applicable to this Directive and other legislative provisions of EU law are met and that the management of the site is in the hands of a person who is technically competent and reliable. Member States must inform the Commission of all draft storage permits within one month after receipt. Within four months of receipt, the Commission may then issue a non-binding opinion on the draft permits within a period of six months. When taking its decision, the competent authority must consider this opinion and, if it deviates from it, must give reasons for its final decision to the Commission.

No substantial change may be made without a new or updated storage permit being issued pursuant to this Directive.

The competent authority reviews the situation and updates, or as a last resort, withdraws the storage permit:

  • in the case of leakages or significant irregularities;
  • in the case of non-compliance with permit conditions or risks of leakages or significant irregularities;
  • any failure by the operator to meet the permit conditions;
  • on the basis of the latest scientific findings and technological progress;
  • in any case, five years after issuing the permit and every 10 years thereafter.

Operation, closure and post-closure obligations

No waste or any other matter may be added to the CO2 stream with a view to disposing of it. Concentrations of incidental substances present in the stream must be below levels that could adversely affect the storage site and infrastructure or pose a risk to the environment. The operator must prove that the CO2 stream meets these criteria and keep a register of the CO2 streams delivered.

The operator must monitor the injection facilities, the storage complex and, where appropriate, the surrounding environment, in accordance with the monitoring plan approved by the competent authority. The monitoring serves to compare the actual and the modelled behaviour of CO2 and to detect significant irregularities, CO2 migration and CO2 leakages and the effects on the environment and the population. The monitoring plan is updated at least every 5 years.

At least once a year, the operator must communicate certain information to the competent authority, including the results of the monitoring of the storage site, the quantities and characteristics of the CO2 stream and proof of the maintenance of the financial security.

The competent authority must organise routine inspections (at least every year) or non-routine inspections (for example, in the case of leakages, in the case of significant irregularities, in the case of non-compliance with the permit conditions, or in the case of serious environmental or health complaints) of the storage sites. The report resulting from each inspection is forwarded to the operator and made publicly available.

In the case of leakages or significant irregularities, the operator must notify the competent authority immediately and take the necessary corrective measures, as described in the corrective measures plan approved by the competent authority. The competent authority may impose additional measures and, if the operator takes no action, take corrective measures itself, at the operator’s expense.

The site is closed if the conditions stated in the permit have been met, at the request of the operator or if the competent authority so decides after the withdrawal of the permit. After closure, the operator remains responsible for the site, including sealing the site and removing the injection facilities. The operator is also subject to the same obligations as during operation, in accordance with a provisional post-closure plan approved by the competent authority. Responsibility is then transferred to the competent authority when all available evidence indicates that the stored CO2 will be completely and permanently contained, a minimum period has elapsed, the financial obligations have been fulfilled, the site has been sealed and the injection facilities have been removed. After the transfer of responsibility, routine inspections cease and monitoring is reduced to a level which allows for detection of leakages or significant irregularities. If the permit has been withdrawn, the competent authority assumes the obligations mentioned above and recovers all the costs incurred from the former operator until the conditions for a definitive transfer of responsibility to the competent authority have been met (when all available evidence indicates that the stored CO2 will be completely and permanently contained).

Other provisions

Financial security or any other equivalent must be provided by the operator before submitting an application for a storage permit to ensure that the obligations relating to the operation, closure and post-closure of the storage site are met.

Member States must ensure that potential users are able to obtain fair, open access to CO2 transport networks and to CO2 storage sites. They must also put in place dispute settlement arrangements, cooperate with one another in cross-border situations, maintain a register of closed storage sites and forward it to the Commission and submit a report on the application of the Directive to the Commission, for the first time by 30 June 2011 and then every 3 years.


This Directive is part of the “energy and climate change” package launched by the Commission at the beginning of 2008.


Proposal Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/31/EC



OJ L 140 of 5.6.2009

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 23 January 2008 entitled “20 20 by 2020 – Europe’s climate change opportunity” [COM(2008) 30 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In January 2008, the Commission adopted a series of coherent, comprehensive measures to achieve the objectives set by the EU in spring 2007 for 2020 in respect of climate change and renewable energies.

Environmental issues of PVC

Environmental issues of PVC

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environmental issues of PVC


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.


Environmental issues of PVC

The Commission assesses the impact of PVC waste on the environment and presents proposals for addressing the problems that may arise in this respect.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 26 July 2000 – Environmental issues of PVC [COM(2000) 469 – Not published in the Official Journal].


A report on the PVC situation in Europe. Opinions vary on the effects of PVC on human health and the environment, as do the measures taken by some Member States to deal with the problem. PVC is one of today’s most widely used plastics. The European Commission therefore considers that an integrated approach is necessary. This would enable two objectives to be achieved: the proper functioning of the internal market and a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

The Green Paper follows on from the Commission’s commitment, in its draft Directive on end-of-life vehicles, to assess the impact of PVC waste on the environment in an “integrated approach”, i.e. throughout the life cycle of PVC. It is the outcome of a three-year study programme launched by the Commission on the technical, scientific and economic aspects of the PVC life cycle. The adoption of the Green Paper is an important milestone in the development of a global Community strategy on PVC.

The Green Paper tackles two main issues:

  • environmental and health questions concerning the use of certain additives in PVC (particularly lead, cadmium and phtalates);
  • the question of waste management (landfill, incineration, recycling of PVC waste): PVC waste is expected to increase by about 80% over the next twenty years.

The Green Paper also presents a range of policy options for reducing the impact on human health and the environment and for possible measures to form part of a future Community strategy on PVC.

The Commission wishes to organise the broadest possible consultation on the topics dealt with in the Green Paper, involving the general public, environmental and consumer NGOs, producers, processors and users of PVC, and the public authorities of the Member States. A public hearing was held in October 2000. On the basis of the consultation, the Commission will present a communication on the Community strategy on PVC.

Comments by interested parties were collected by the Commission until November 2000.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 21 December 2005 – Taking sustainable use of resources forward: a Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste [– Not published in the Official Journal].
This strategy sets out guidelines and describes measures aimed at reducing the pressure on the environment caused by waste production and management. The main thrust of the strategy is on amending the legislation to improve implementation, and on preventing waste and promoting effective recycling.

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety [Official Journal L 11 of 15 January 2002].
The general safety of products placed on the market is guaranteed by Community legislation, which ensures a consistent, high level of protection for the health and safety of consumers. The European Union (EU) has introduced a rapid alert system for products which pose a serious risk (RAPEX), and provisions for products to be withdrawn from the market if they are likely to put the health and safety of consumers at risk.

of the Commission of 7 December 1999 adopting measures prohibiting the placing on the market of toys and childcare articles intended to be placed in the mouth by children under three years of age, made of soft PVC containing one or more substances containing phthalates.
Toys intended to be placed in the mouth by children under three years of age and containing phthalates are prohibited throughout the European Union. Importing these products is also prohibited. Phthalates are toxic substances which may be found in soft PVC, a type of plastic which is also used in the manufacturing of toys.

Parliament resolution on the Commission’s Green Paper on Environmental Issues of PVC.
In this Resolution, Parliament criticises the Commission for failing to carry out an analysis of the life cycle of PVC products in order to make a comparison with alternative materials. Parliament calls on the Commission to present at the earliest opportunity a draft long-term horizontal strategy for the replacement of PVC. It proposes that the polluter pays principle be applied to PVC waste. It also calls for the necessary measures be taken to ensure the separate collection of PVC. Parliament calls on the Commission to propose banning the use of lead and cadmium in PVC. It suggests introducing a recycling system similar to that for junk automobiles and the compulsory labelling of all plastics.



Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Ecolabel


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Interaction between enterprise policy and other policies


Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 66/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the EU Ecolabel.


The EU Ecolabel may be awarded to products and services which have a lower environmental impact than other products in the same group *. The label criteria were devised using scientific data on the whole of a product’s life cycle, from product development to disposal.

The label may be awarded to all goods or services distributed, consumed or used on the Community market whether in return for payment or free of charge. It does not apply to medicinal products for human or veterinary use, or to medical devices.

The system was introduced by Regulation (EEC) No 880/92 and amended by Regulation (EC) No 1980/2000. This Regulation (EEC) No 66/2010 aims to improve the rules on the award, use and operation of the label.

Award criteria

The label shall be awarded in consideration of European environmental and ethical objectives. In particular:

  • the impact of goods and services on climate change, nature and biodiversity, energy and resource consumption, generation of waste, pollution, emissions and the release of hazardous substances into the environment;
  • the substitution of hazardous substances by safer substances;
  • durability and reusability of products;
  • ultimate impact on the environment, including on consumer health and safety;
  • compliance with social and ethical standards, such as international labour standards;
  • taking into account criteria established by other labels at national and regional levels;
  • reducing animal testing.

The label cannot be awarded to products containing substances classified by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 as toxic, hazardous to the environment, carcinogenic or mutagenic, or substances subject to the regulatory framework for the management of chemicals.

Competent bodies

Member States shall designate one or more bodies responsible for the labelling process at national level. Their operations shall be transparent and their activities shall be open to the involvement of all interested parties.

They are specifically responsible for regularly checking that products comply with the label criteria. Their remit also includes receiving complaints, informing the public, monitoring false advertising and prohibiting products.

The procedure for award and use of the label

In order to be awarded the label, economic operators shall submit an application to:

  • one or more Member State(s), which will send it to the competent national body;
  • a third State, which will send it to the Member State where the product is marketed.

If the product complies with the label criteria, the competent body shall conclude a contract with the operator, establishing the terms of use and withdrawal of the label. The operator may then place the label on the product. The use of the label is subject to payment of a fee when the application is made, and an annual fee.

The Commission has created a catalogue of products which have been awarded the label.

The European Union Ecolabelling Board (EUEB)

The Commission shall establish a committee representing the national competent bodies. The Commission shall consult the EUEB when developing or revising the award criteria and requirements of the label.


Regulation (EC) No 1980/2000 is repealed. However, it shall continue to apply to contracts concluded before the current Regulation entered into force, until the date of expiry specified in the contracts.

Key terms of the Act
  • Product group: a set of products that have a similar purpose, use or properties, and are similar in terms of consumer perception.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 66/2010


OJ L 27, 30.1.2010

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2010/709/EU of 22 November 2010 establishing the European Union Ecolabelling Board (notified under document C(2010) 7961) Text with EEA relevance

This Directive establishes the European Union Ecolabelling Board (EUEB). Its members are appointed by the Commission. It is composed of representatives from the European Union Member States and the European Economic Area, as well as from national and European competent organisations.

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biodiversity strategy for 2020


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Biodiversity strategy for 2020

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 3 June 2011, entitled: “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” [COM(2011) 244 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the European Union (EU) by 2020, by identifying six priority targets.. This strategy is an integral part of the Europe 2020 strategy, and, in particular, of the flagship initiative entitled “A resource-efficient Europe”.

Target 1: conserving and restoring nature

The EU must ensure better application of Directives “Birds” and “Habitats”. These two Directives constitute the backbone of EU biodiversity policy. They have achieved some good results so far, such as the creation of Natura 2000, the world’s largest network of protected areas, covering over 750 000 km2.. However, progress is still insufficient in terms of reaching a favourable conservation status of all habitats and species of European importance. In order to achieve the first target of this strategy, Member Sates must ensure better application of existing legislation. In particular, they must manage and restore the Natura 2000 sites by investing the necessary resources. These actions would contribute towards halting biodiversity loss and restoring biodiversity by 2020.

Target 2: maintaining and enhancing ecosystems and their services

The integration of a green infrastructure, restoring at least 15 % of the degraded ecosystems by 2020, and the development of an initiative aimed at preventing any net loss of ecosystems and their services by 2015, will be essential measures for maintaining and improving ecosystem services (for example the pollination of crops by bees).

Target 3: ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and forestry

The instruments provided under the CAP should contribute towards maximising areas under agriculture across grasslands, arable land, and permanent crops that are covered by biodiversity measures, by 2020.

Forest Management Plans or equivalent instruments will be put in place for all forests that are publicly owned and for forest holdings above a certain size, by 2020. The plans must ensure sustainable management of forests in order to receive funding under the EU’s Rural Development Policy.

Measures adopted to ensure sustainable management must also contribute towards achieving targets 1 and 2 of the strategy.

Target 4: ensuring sustainable use of fisheries resources

The measures adopted as part of the Common Fisheries Policy must enable the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) to be achieved by 2015. In order to achieve this, it is essential to achieve a population by age and by size distribution indicative of a healthy stock. Through fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on other stocks, species and ecosystems, it will be possible to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020, in accordance with the “Marine Strategy Framework-Directive”..

Target 5: combating invasive alien species

With the exception of the legislation on the use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture, there is currently no comprehensive EU policy on combating invasive alien species. However, these species pose a significant threat to European biodiversity. It is therefore necessary to identify them, isolate or eradicate them, and to control their introduction in order to prevent the appearance of new species. To this end, the Commission will fill policy gaps in combating invasive alien species with a dedicated legislative instrument..

Target 6: addressing the global biodiversity crisis

The EU must step up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss by meeting the commitments made at the 10th Conference of Parties (COP10) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which took place in Nagoya in 2010. During this conference, the EU committed to:

  • achieving the goals set by the global strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-2020;
  • implementing the Nagoya protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use (ABS Protocol); and
  • mobilising additional resources to finance the challenge of protecting biodiversity world-wide.


The strategy responds to two major commitments made by EU officials in March 2010, namely halting biodiversity loss in the EU by 2020 and protecting, assessing and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2050.

Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms

Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Specific themes

Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs)

Document or Iniciative

2009/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms.


Member States are required to take all measures necessary in order to avoid the contained use * of genetically modified micro-organisms * (GMMs) having negative consequences on human health and the environment.

The Directive does not cover:

  • genetic modifications resulting from the use of certain techniques or methods listed in Annex II, part A;
  • contained uses involving the GMMs listed in Annex II, part C. GMMs on this list meet the criteria laid down in Annex II, part B, establishing their safety for human health and the environment;
  • the transport of GMMs by road, rail, inland waterway, sea or air;
  • the storage, culture, transport, destruction, disposal or use of GMMs which have been placed on the market in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC on the release of GMOs or pursuant to other Community legislation which provides for a specific environmental risk assessment similar to that laid down in the said Directive, provided that the contained use is in accordance with the conditions, if any, of the consent for placing on the market.

The assessment of GMM records shall result in a risk hierarchy of the contained uses consisting of four classes. The containment measures to be applied shall also be classified in a four-level hierarchy.

  • Class 1: No or negligible risk, level 1 containment;
  • Class 2: Low risk, level 2 containment;
  • Class 3: Moderate risk, level 3 containment;
  • Class 4: High risk, level 4 containment.

The contained use of GMMs requires an examination of the containment and protection measures taken, in order to avoid a release.

When contained uses are to be carried out in premises for the first time, the user shall be required, before commencing such use, to submit to the competent authorities a notification containing at least the information listed in Annex V, Part A, B or C, as appropriate. Following notification to the competent authorities of a class 1 contained use, subsequent class 1 contained use may proceed without further notification. Users of GMMs in class 1 contained uses shall be required to keep a record of each assessment, which shall be made available to the competent authority on request.

If the premises have been the subject of a previous notification to carry out class 2 or a higher class of contained uses and any associated consent requirements have been satisfied, the class 2 contained use may proceed immediately following the new notification. However, the applicant may himself request from the competent authority a decision on the grant of a formal authorisation. The decision must be made within a maximum of 45 days from the notification.

If the premises have not been the subject of a previous notification to carry out class 2 or a higher class of contained uses, the class 2 contained use may, in the absence of any indication to the contrary from the competent authority, proceed 45 days after submission of the notification or earlier with the agreement of the competent authority.

A class 3 or higher class of contained use may not proceed without the prior consent of the competent authority, which shall communicate its decision in writing:

  • at the latest 45 days after submission of the new notification, in the case of premises which have been the subject of a previous notification to carry out class 3 or a higher class of contained uses and where any associated consent requirements have been satisfied for the same or a higher class than the contained use with which it is intended to proceed;
  • at the latest 90 days after submission of the notification, in other cases.

The Annexes to the Directive detail the criteria for assessing the risks of GMMs to health and the environment, as well as the protective measures for each of the four levels of containment.

If they so wish, Member States may provide for groups or the public to be consulted on any aspect of proposed contained use.

Before a contained use commences, Member States shall ensure that:

  • an emergency plan is drawn up in order to react effectively in the case of an accident *; and
  • persons at risk of being affected by an accident are informed of all aspects related to their safety.

If an accident occurs, the user should immediately inform the competent authority and communicate the information necessary for assessing the impact of that accident and for taking the appropriate action. The Member State shall also inform the Commission and any Member State which may be affected by the accident.

The Commission shall create a register of accidents including an analysis of the causes of the accidents, the experience gained and measures taken to avoid similar accidents.

The Commission shall be assisted by a Committee which is to rule on matters related to the application of the Directive and adapting it in light of technical progress.


This Directive replaces and repeals Directive 90/219/EEC. It is a formal amendment aimed at bringing together the original Directive and its successive amendments into a single act, without any changes to the fundamental provisions nor any new transposition into national law being made.

Finally, this Directive lays down the minimal standards applicable to the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms. Member States are permitted to take more stringent measures. They may also extend the scope of the Directive to contained uses involving genetically modified plants, animals or fish.

Key terms of the Act
  • Genetically modified micro-organism: a micro-organism in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination; within the terms of this definition:
    1. genetic modification occurs at least through the use of the techniques listed in Annex I, Part A;
    2. the techniques listed in Annex I, Part B, are not considered to result in genetic modification.
  • Contained use : any activity in which micro-organisms are genetically modified or in which such GMMs are cultured, stored, transported, destroyed, disposed of or used in any other way, and for which specific containment measures are used to limit their contact with, and to provide a high level of safety for, the general population and the environment.
  • Accident: any incident involving a significant and unintended release of GMMs in the course of their contained use which could present an immediate or delayed hazard to human health or the environment.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2009/41/EC


OJ L 125 of 21.5.2009