February 22, 2012

Environmental law specialists in Brussels: a necessity when Swedish environmental law is increasingly governed by the EU

Mannheimer Swartling’s environmental law group has been present in Brussels for several years. The firm is now strengthening its presence there, to remain at the forefront.

EU legislation within the area of environmental law is extensive and has major impact on the contents of Swedish environmental legislation. Some 80 per cent of the current Swedish environmental legislation originated in Brussels, and new legislation is constantly added. The new legal acts that emanated from Brussels in recent years include the new Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), with stricter rules on the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT), and REACH, a regulation that raises the level of requirements on chemical users. Important court cases from the European Court of Justice within the area of environmental law also have an impact on Sweden and Swedish companies.

Mårten Tagaeus, chairman of Mannheimer Swartling’s environment practice group, believes it is a necessity to have environmental specialists on site in Brussels.

“It is a matter of credibility,” explains Mårten Tagaeus. “These days, most environmental cases have a European law dimension, and in order to offer our clients the best possible advice, we must be present where environmental laws are created. We are able to monitor legal developments more closely in Brussels, and we can help our clients to predict, and therefore also influence, new rules and regulations. Once the new legislation has been adopted, it is too late to act. We have also seen that our clients have a need on the transactional side for proper updates in the environmental area.”

The EU objective of creating an internal market for energy is a hot topic in Brussels at the moment. The objective is to achieve a competitive internal market for energy, where electricity and gas can be transported across European borders just as easily as goods and services are today. A concrete condition for the realisation of this objective is a reliable, interconnected energy network within the EU. This, in turn, requires major investments in infrastructure. To facilitate such investments, the EU seeks to facilitate and render the approvals procedures for the construction of new energy infrastructure more efficient.

“As investments in the energy sector have long lead times and involve considerable amounts of money, it is hugely important for our Swedish operators to stay up-to-date so that they can adapt their investments accordingly,” Tagaeus says. “We see extensive legislative work ahead of us, to concretise all measures and efforts required for the creation of a fully integrated internal energy market. Our presence in Brussels makes it possible for us to remain one step ahead so that we can look after our client's interests in a better way.”

Mannheimer Swartling has long been the only Scandinavian law firm with specialist competence on site in Brussels, and our environment practice group plans to expand its Brussels practice in 2012. With its permanent presence in Brussels, the group intends to extend its monitoring of legal developments and its network with other key actors in the environment from which Sweden’s environmental law increasingly emanates. Mannheimer Swartling’s environment practice group consists of approximately 25 lawyers who work at the firm’s offices in Sweden, Berlin and Brussels.

Twice annually, the environment practice group issues the newsletter Miljöaffärer, which includes news on EU environmental law. To subscribe to Miljöaffärer, please contact Eva Lernmyr, elr@rmsa.se.