Origin and mission of the European IPPC Bureau
The European IPPC Bureau was established in 1997 by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Located in Seville (Spain), the Bureau was originally affiliated with the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) and is now part of JRC Unit B5 - Circular Economy & Industrial Leadership in Directorate B - Growth and Innovation.
From the beginning, the European IPPC Bureau's had the mandate to organise an exchange of information between Member States, concerned industries and environmental non-governmental organisations on Best Available Techniques (BAT) for an integrated control and prevention of environmental pollution from industrial activities. The objective of the information exchange is to assist the efficient implementation of the Industrial Emissions Directive across the European Union. This work is carried out in close collaboration with DG Environment.
BREFs: the main output of the Sevilla process
A BREF is a comprehensive report that determines best available techniques (BAT) and emerging techniques based on empirical data and sound techno-economic information. The key element of a BREF is the section on 'BAT conclusions' that is adopted as a stand-alone document through a committee procedure. BAT conclusions are subsequently published in the Official Journal of the European Union and provide competent authorities with a reference for setting permit conditions to installations covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
A BREF is not meant to be a textbook on pollution prevention and control techniques since extensive literature exists on the subject. Its content is limited to the information relevant for the purpose of enabling the determination of BAT and emerging techniques for activities or sectors covered in Annex I of the IED.
A BREF informs the relevant decision makers about what may be technically and economically available to industry in order to abate emissions to air and water and improve their overall environmental performance.
The elaboration of BREFs at EU level is considered to be an effective and cost-efficient exercise that 1) ensures a level playing field regarding environmental standards across the European Union, 2) drives continuous process innovation and improvement of environmental performances and 3) prevents replication of activities in each Member State.
As of 2021, the European IPPC Bureau has issued 33 BREFs, most of them have been already reviewed and updated. Each BREF is normally the outcome of a multiple year information collection and exchange within technical working groups of more than 100 experts.