Cattle kept out of reviewed Industrial Emissions Directive

Dairy farm

By Jenny Brunton - Senior European Policy Advisor

On 29 November 2023, negotiators from the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).

The compromised agreement completely leaves cattle outside the scope of the law and established that the EU executive must assess how to best address these emissions by the end of 2026.

The IED will now cover farms with more than 350 livestock units (LSU) for pigs, 300 adult livestock units (LUA) for poultry, and 280 for broilers.

COPA-COGECA welcomed efforts to change “a Commission’s proposal which was out of touch with on-the-ground realities”. However, they said the deal “dismissed” consequences for poultry and pig farms. 

They also criticised that at present there is no reciprocity clause, something which they had lobbied for to ensure that manufacturers outside the EU meet similar environmental requirements to EU producers. The European Parliament initially supported the idea, but the Council was hesitant and such a clause did not make it into the final agreement. 

The agreement still has to go through a final vote in the Parliament and the Council of the EU before the legislation can enter into force.


On 5 April 2022, the European Commission presented proposals to update the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), bringing much more of the EU’s livestock sector into the scope of the rules by expanding the scope of the IED to cover the rearing of cattle, pigs or poultry in installations of 150 livestock units (LSU) or more, & rearing of any mix of the following animals: cattle, pigs, poultry, in installations of 150 LSU or more. The 2010 law originally covered rearing of poultry or pigs with more than 40,000 poultry or with more than 2,000 pigs (over 30kg), or with more than 750 places for sows. Less strict emission limits would be established by the competent authority as a derogation only where an assessment shows that the achievement of emission levels would lead to disproportionately high costs compared to environmental benefits due to i) the geographical location or local environmental conditions of the installations and ii) technical characteristics of the installation.


Livestock unit coefficients

Bovine animals

Under 1 year old



1 but less than 2 years old



Male, 2 years old and over



Heifers, 2 years old and over



Dairy cows



Other cows, 2 years old and over


Sheep and goats




Piglets having a live weight of under 20 kg



Breeding sows weighing 50 kg and over



Other pigs






Laying hens



Other poultry