26 January 2015 – Most of the political groups in the European Parliament continued action on the proposed air quality package in their draft resolutions on the European Commission’s 2015 Work Programme. The Social-Democrats (S&D), Liberals (ALDE), Greens/EFA, Eurosceptics EFDD and Left (GUE/NGL) groups all criticised the Commission’s tentative suggestion to withdraw a proposal to improve air quality as well as other proposed environmental measures.
Before the January plenary session in Strasbourg, a coalition of eight civil society organisations called for a better air quality and to keep ongoing discussions on National Emission Ceilings (NEC) directive which could affect the air pollution’s thresholds. Although the whole European Parliament Plenary did not endorse a joint common resolution on the European Commission’s Work Programme during the last plenary session, some Members of European Parliament (MEPs), reinsured by the European Commission, gave some guarantees to the coalition, that the air quality will not be removed from the top of political agenda.
Poor air quality is the first environmental cause of death. It causes cancers and cardiovascular diseases and dramatically impacts quality of life for people living with respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Two weeks ago, The Lancet published an editorial pointing out how outdoor air pollution contributed to more than 3.2 million premature deaths and 76 million years of ill health (WHO indicator disability-adjusted life years) worldwide in 2010. The clean air proposal has the potential to prevent 58,000 premature deaths each year — an opportunity that should not be squandered.
The Lancet article also points out that:
- The Commission’s Clean Air proposal falls far short of WHO recommended levels of environmental protection.
- The EU should introduce more ambitious EU-wide emissions limits for key pollutants instead of asking Member States to set their own targets.
- Quicker action is needed to achieve the health benefits of environmental protection and reduce the burden on health services.
- Far from discarding or diluting legislation designed to protect public health, policy makers in Europe and elsewhere should focus on scientific evidence and work towards stronger policies.
EPHA strongly encourages policy makers in Europe to work towards stronger air quality policies and to protect EU citizens’ lungs and health.
For more information:
Joint letter | EU Parliament should send strong message to Commission to continue negotiations on Air Quality Directive
Air Pollution: Are EU Policy Makers Aware of the Danger for Public Health?
Green 10: Parliament support for Juncker on environment eroding over attack on green legislation