Environment Commissioner says EU will adopt ‘ambitious’ package of air quality policies in coming weeks
Details of a new European air quality strategy are expected to be confirmed before the end of the year, the EU’s Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik has revealed.
In a speech that the Commissioner had been due to give at the ‘Cleaner air for all – all for cleaner air’ conference on Monday (December 9), text of which was published online – Mr Potocnik revealed that plans for new air quality legislation will be approved by the Commission in the coming weeks.
Policies have been drafted in the wake of the Commission’s review of air quality legislation, which assessed the effectiveness of current measures.
According to Mr Potocnik, the review highlighted that current EU policy has been an ‘environmental success story’ but it air pollution continues to be the number one environmental cause of death in the EU, causing over 400,000 premature deaths in 2010 alone.
Total annual expenditure on the effects of air quality were estimated to be between €330-940 billion during 2010 alone. It is also thought to have resulted in 100 million lost workdays for workers across the EU.
Mr Potocnik said: “The Commission will adopt a new and ambitious air quality package, based on a thorough review of the existing air policy, launched in early 2011. The review was based on almost three years of intensive consultations with stakeholders, a thorough analysis of the latest scientific evidence on air pollution, a full assessment of the pros and cons of the existing EU air policy, and its impact on health and environment, and an in-depth examination of available cost-effective measures.
“I am very happy to say that Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health, has taken this issue to heart, and we are working together closely to present it jointly.â€?
Meanwhile he also commented that the Commission will work with Member States to ensure that existing air quality policy is being applied uniformly across the Union.
He added: “We need to make sure that all citizens are protected in the same way. Air quality standards already in place must be fully implemented. This is not always the case. We are still talking about the limits from the 90’s, before new scientific data confirmed the health impacts of air pollution.
“From the Commission side, we can help out by reinforcing capacity, providing advice and facilitating exchange of best practices, and by pointing to funding opportunities, for example from the LIFE+ Programme. Equally, the Commission and Member States must jointly ensure that existing EU source regulation for industry, transport and energy will cut emissions as expected.â€?