The European Commission is to refer Ireland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for failing to correctly transpose a directive on water pollution into national law.
The Water Framework Directive, adopted in 2000, set up a framework for protecting water resources and water-dependent ecosystems.
The deadline for its transfer into national law was 22 December 2003, and the commission described action taken so far by the Irish authorities on the directive as “unsatisfactory and insufficient”.
The commission said that it had found the legislation that Ireland initially adopted on the issue “insufficient”.
Late last year, new legislation, the Water Environment (Abstractions and Associated Impoundments) Act 2022, was enacted in a bid to deal with the commission’s criticisms.
It creates new powers to control water-abstraction and impoundment activities.
The commission said that, while the act provided for a new regulatory framework, the details of this needed to be filled in with implementing regulations.
The EU body added that it was not clear how long it would take for full compliance to be achieved.
“Despite some progress and the adoption of new legislation in June 2022, the Irish authorities have not yet fully addressed the grievances, over 20 years after the entry into force of this directive,” the commission said.
“Ireland's transposing law still needs to provide for appropriate controls in the following areas: water abstraction; impoundment; and activities causing hydro-morphological changes such as dams, weirs, and other interferences in natural water flow.”
The commission had originally a letter of formal notice to Ireland in October 2007, followed by a reasoned opinion in November 2011, but it reassessed the case after Ireland adopted new amending legislation.
The EU body sent an additional letter of formal notice to Ireland in January 2019, followed by an additional reasoned opinion in October 2020.
Invasive alien species
Ireland is also one of six members states referred to the CJEU by the commission for failing to implement some provisions of Regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.
Invasive alien species are plants and animals that are accidentally or deliberately introduced to an area where they are not normally found.
The commission said that the six had not established, implemented, and communicated action plans to address the most important pathways of introduction and spread of such species.