European Court of Justice – preliminary rulings

The European Court was asked, by a court in France, whether the directive, establishing the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, breached the principle of equality laid down in the EU Treaty insofar as the directive makes the greenhouse gas emission trading scheme applicable to installations in the steel sector, without including, in its scope, the aluminium and plastics industries.

Advocate General Poiares Maduro found that there was no such breach, stating that that in the initial phases of the emissions trading scheme, the EU was entitled not to include all industry sectors.

The European Court was also asked, by a court in Sweden, to provide a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the waste incineration directive.

The court was asked, in terms of the waste incineration directive, whether each unit (furnace) in a combined heat and power plant should be assessed as a separate plant, or whether an assessment should cover the combined power and heating plant as a whole.

The court was also asked whether a plant constructed for waste incineration, but having as its main purpose the production of energy, should be classified as an incineration plant or as a co-incineration plant.

Advocate General Juliane Kokott found that a each unit of a combined heat and power plant, and its associated equipment, should be regarded as installation.

However, she stated that it is possible, for purposes of the application of the waste incineration directive, to regard several installations as a single installation, provided that there is no avoidance of provisions intended to prevent negative effects on human health or the environment.

The Advocate General also stated that the qualification of an installation as an incineration or co-incineration plant is dependent on whether the key objective was the heat treatment of waste or the production of energy.

The opinions in the cases C-127/07 and C-251/07, are available from the European Court of Justice via this link.

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