(CN) – The European Court of Justice signed off Thursday on the certification scheme by which Italy regulates companies that use bioliquids for thermal energy plants.
Though a copy of the ruling out of Luxembourg is not available in English, a press release states that that the dispute arose after Italy withdrew public funding from the company Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto.
L.E.G.O., as the company’s name is abbreviated in the court record, uses the bioliquid palm oil to fuel a thermal energy plant that runs its printing office.
From 2012 to 2014, L.E.G.O received public funding because its plant was recognized as being fueled by renewable energy sources.
Italy cut that aid off, however, after the intermediary company responsible for the buying the oil on L.E.G.O.’s behalf failed to submit sustainability certificates.
The press release emphasizes that this failure occurred “in spite of the fact that those certificates had already been submitted by the third-party supplier, which had signed up to the voluntary ‘ISCC’ (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) control system.”
As L.E.G.O. challenged the loss of its aid before the national administrative courts, Italy’s Council of State sought guidance from the European Court of Justice as to whether the national legislation is pre-empted by voluntary sustainability certification scheme, such as the ISCC system. The
The court found no pre-emption Thursday, however, and it answered in the negative to the council’s second question: “whether EU law precludes national legislation imposing a national bioliquids sustainability verification system under which all the economic operators involved in the supply chain of the product, even when they are intermediaries which do not take physical possession of the batches of bioliquids, are bound by requirements relating to certification, communication and the provision of information imposed by that system.”
Since the ISCC system concerns biofuels and not bioliquids, the court found that “Italy was free to introduce a national certification system that was stricter than the ‘ISCC’ system’ in order to establish the sustainability of bioliquids.”
The court also found that :Italy is free to categorize intermediaries (including those which do not take physical possession of those products) as ‘economic operators’, in order to ensure, in accordance with the requirements of the directive, that batches of bioliquids are traceable throughout the supply chain, thus allowing a better control of their production and their distribution in order to reduce the risk of fraud.”
Though Italy’s requirement to submit sustainability certificates on intermediaries that do not take physical possession of the bioliquids makes the importation of bioliquids into Italy more difficult, the court found that such a limitation on the free movement of goods is justified by the objectives of protecting the environment and combating fraud.