Prevention of major accidents involving dangerous substances: EU Commission calls on GERMANY, ESTONIA, LATVIA, LITHUANIA and AUSTRIA to improve their national rules

The European Commission urges Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Austria to bring their national legislation in line with the Directive 2012/18/EU on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (the Seveso III Directive).

The Directive applies to over 12,000 industrial installations across the European Union and lays down rules to prevent major industrial accidents and minimize their harmful impacts on human health and the environment.

Germany has not correctly transposed the Directive in relation to requirements to provide certain information, major-accident prevention policy, information to the public, participation rights in decision-making, and safety reports and emergency plans.

In particular, public consultation and participation provisions in relation to new developments around establishments were incorrectly transposed at national and regional level.

Estoniahas not correctly transposed the Directive in relation to the majority of its provisions, ranging from definitions to time limits for supplying information. Most of the shortcomings concern the fact that some key requirements are either lacking or unclear in the national law.

Latviahas not correctly transposed the Directive in relation to, amongst others, the classification of the establishments (existing or new) and public consultation and participation.

Lithuaniahas not correctly transposed the Directive in relation to the provisions concerning non-routine inspections, which are important to verify whether industrial installations fully comply with their obligations.

In particular, the rules on the duty to share sufficient and detailed information with other potentially affected Member States in case of accidents have not been correctly transposed into national law. Among other shortcomings, Austria has not correctly transposed the Directive in relation to public consultation and participation in decision-making.

Therefore, the Commission is sending letters of formal notice to the Member States concerned, giving them four months to remedy the situation. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Vivian Loonela

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