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Nearly half of EU actions against Ireland last year related to Environmental Issues

The European Commission opened 38 cases against Ireland for infringements of EU law last year, according to its annual report on the enforcement of EU law.  Throughout the EU, the commission said the number of open infringement cases last year was stable, but new cases were up 20%.  More than half of all infringement proceedings in 2019 were related to the late transposition of EU directives, although the number went down slightly (from 419 cases in 2018 to 406 in 2019).

Environmental issues

Almost half of the new cases against Ireland, 15, related to environmental issues. Six were in the ‘justice and consumers’ category, while four were linked to the internal market or small business issues.

At the end of 2019, there were 61 open infringement cases against Ireland, up from 52 in 2018.

27 of the 38 new cases related to delays in transposing EU law into Irish law, more than double the figure for 2018.


One of the main judgments against Ireland by the EU courts was that it had failed to comply with an earlier ruling, which required that a remedial environmental impact assessment be carried out for a large windfarm development in Derrybrien, Co Galway.

The court ordered Ireland to pay a fine of €5m and €15,000 for every subsequent day of delay.

During the year, an EU court also found that Ireland had not complied with the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive as it had failed to put in place compliant waste water collecting systems to tackle excessive spills from storm water overflows and failed to provide adequate treatment of urban waste waters

Air pollution

Overall, Luxembourg, Estonia and Lithuania had the fewest number of new opened cases for incorrect transposition or wrong application of EU law in 2019, while Spain, Italy and Greece faced the highest number.

Some of the main policy areas targeted were environment, the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, and transport and mobility. The commission said these areas accounted for half of all cases in 2019.

It took action against three member states for excessive air pollution, and against five which failed to ensure equivalent access for disabled users to the 112 single European emergency number.

Source – Law Society

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