Origin and mission of the European IPPC Bureau
The European IPPC Bureau was established in Seville (Spain) in 1997 within the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) (now Directorate B: Growth and Innovation) of the Commission's Joint Research Centre, in the context of the implementation of the IPPC Directive.
The European IPPC Bureau was set up to organise an exchange of information between Member States and the industries concerned, on the dynamic concept of best available techniques (BAT) associated monitoring and developments in them as required by Article 17(2) of the IPPC Directive (2008/1/EC). The objective of the information exchange exercise is to assist the efficient implementation of the Directive across the European Union.
The process to elaborate and review Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference documents, the BREFs, has been enshrined into law with the adoption on 8 November 2010 of the new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), 2010/75/EU, which replaces the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (2008/1/EC) and related legislation on industrial emissions.
BREFs: the main output of the Sevilla process
A BREF is the vehicle through which best available techniques (BAT) and emerging techniques are determined in a transparent manner, based on sound techno-economic information. A BREF gives predictability to the process of determining conclusions on BAT and provides confidence in the quality of the end result.
The key elements of BREFs (i.e. 'BAT conclusions') are adopted through committee procedure and are the reference for setting permit conditions to installations covered by the IED.
A BREF is not meant to be a textbook on pollution prevention and control techniques since extensive literature exists on the subject. Therefore, its content is limited to the information relevant for this purpose of enabling the determination of BAT and emerging techniques under the IED.
The BREFs inform the relevant decision makers about what may be technically and economically available to industry in order to improve their environmental performance and consequently improve the whole environment.
The elaboration of BREFs at EU level is considered to be an efficient exercise because in their absence, each Member State would have to conduct a similar exercise.
In 2006, the European IPPC Bureau completed the first series of 33 BREFs and launched the review of the first documents that were finalised. Today, each BREF is normally the outcome of a multiple year process involving more than 100 experts.