Air Quality: the European Commission calls on Romania to improve its rules on industrial emissions

by Romanian Reporter - Friday, February 19, 2021 11:25 AM

Air Quality: the European Commission calls on Romania to improve its rules on industrial emissions

The European Commission sent Romania a letter of formal notice on Thursday regarding the alignment with the EU legislation for the prevention and reduction of harmful industrial emissions. According to the European executive body, the Romanian judiciary system fails to enforce the sanctions.

The Commission is asking Romania to bring its national legislation into line with the EU Directive on industrial emissions (IED) (Directive 2010/75). Industrial activities have a significant impact on the environment. The Directive on industrial emissions aims to prevent and reduce harmful industrial emissions across the EU while promoting the use of techniques that reduce pollutant emissions and that are energy and resource-efficient. The European Green Deal, with its Zero Pollution ambition, puts emphasis on cutting air pollution, which is among the key factors negatively affecting human health.  Full implementation of the air quality standards enshrined in EU legislation is key to effectively protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.

The Romanian legal system fails to guarantee the implementation of the key objectives of the directive, in particular, that installations must only be allowed to operate if they have permits. On the one hand, the Romanian legal system, in its current state, introduces very low and inadequate penalties, which fail to ensure effectiveness, proportionality, and dissuasiveness as required by the Directive. On the other hand, the Romanian authorities fail to implement the existing legislation in a coherent manner on an administrative level (e.g. suspend the operation of installations without permits), while the Romanian judiciary fails to enforce the sanctions, nullifying any effectiveness and dissuasiveness.

Therefore, the Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Romania, which now has two months to address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion.

Romania, targeted by several Commission's legal actions regarding waste, nature, water, and air quality

The Romanian legislation in areas such as waste, nature, water, and air quality is not in accordance with the EU directives, and the European Commission is unsatisfied with the lack of action from the Romanian authorities. In the October 2020 infringements package, the Commission initiated several infringement procedures against Romania, that could ultimately imply the notification of the European Court of Justice and the impositions of sanctions.


The Commission is calling on Romania to close, seal and ecologically restore 15 illegal landfills that benefitted from a transitional period according to its Accession Treaty. 

In Romania, 101 substandard landfills which benefitted from a transitional period, should have been closed by July 2019. According to the information received from Romania, 86 landfills are now closed and rehabilitated. The timeline for the closure and rehabilitation of the 15 remaining landfills is uncertain as for most of these landfills the closure works have not yet started.


The Commission is asking Romania to fully transpose into national law Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Among other problems, the Romanian legislation does not explicitly mention that conservation measures contained in management plans need to take into account the ecological requirements of the natural habitat types and species present on the sites. This has a direct impact on the quality of the management plans as they may not contain the necessary measures to protect these habitat types and species.

The national law also limits the scope of a key provision of the Directive to activities within Natura 2000 sites. This excludes all other potential causes of deterioration or disturbance originating outside the sites.


The Commission decided to send an additional letter of formal notice to Romania for its failure to comply with EU rules on urban wastewater treatment (Council Directive 91/271/EEC) in large urban areas. Under the Directive, towns and cities are required to put in place the necessary infrastructure in order to collect and treat their urban wastewater. Untreated wastewater can put human health at risk and pollute lakes, rivers, soil, and coastal and groundwater.

 According to the latest data provided by the Romanian authorities, while some large agglomerations have not ensured the adequate collection of urban wastewater, additional ones were found to be non-compliant.

188 large agglomerations still do not conform with the urban wastewater collection obligations under EU law, while 192 large agglomerations do not comply with secondary treatment obligations, and 193 large agglomerations with the strictest treatment.

Air Quality

The Commission is urging Greece and Romania to adopt their National Air Pollution Control Programmes as required under Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants. The Directive requires the Member States to draw up, adopt and implement national air pollution control programs in order to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment.

The Directive establishes emission reduction commitments for the Member States' anthropogenic atmospheric emissions with regard to various substances (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, ammonia, and fine particulate matter (PM2,5). Emissions of those pollutants as well as their impacts must be monitored and reported.

Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

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