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EU Clean Air proposals to be amended

Leaked draft European Commission document lists air quality legislative proposals among those to be modified in future

A package of EU legislative proposals aimed at tackling air pollution in Europe is set to be amended – although not scrapped altogether – a leaked draft document suggests.

Seen this morning (December 11) by airqualitynews.com, a draft copy of the European Commission’s proposed work programme for 2015 suggests that the Clean Air Package of legislative proposals will be modified from its current state before possible adoption in future.

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Cover page of the leaked draft European Commission document seen by airqualitynews.com today (December 11)

However, the document does not expand on how the Clean Air Package may be modified, nor does it provide a timeframe for when the Package could be amended and adopted by the Commission, although EU adoption is unlikely to be attempted in 2015.

Annex III of the draft document lists the proposals to be withdrawn or amended from the 2015 legislative agenda, including the proposal for a Directive ‘on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants and amending Directive 2003/35/EC’.

Although the document could be altered before it is approved by Commissioners next week, it states that the Clean Air legislative proposal is “to be modified as part of the legislative follow-up to the 2030 Energy and Climate Packageâ€?.

Explaining the decision to withdraw or amend various legislative proposals from the 2015 work programme, the draft document seen today states that the Juncker Commission “will apply political discontinuity and will take off the table pending proposals that do not match our objectives or which are going nowhere, because we want all institutions to focus on delivering what really mattersâ€?.

Section in Annex III of the Commission's leaked draft 2015 work programme communication referring to intention to amend Clean Air Package

Section in Annex III of the Commission’s leaked draft 2015 work programme communication referring to intention to amend Clean Air Package (click to enlarge)

Stating a commitment for its 2015 work programme “to do different things and to do things differentlyâ€? the document highlights the Commission’s intention to “focus on the ‘big things’ like jobs and growthâ€?.

Interference

The document also states that EU citizens “want less EU interference on the issues where Member States are better equipped to give the right response at national and regional levelâ€? adding that “they also expect the EU to be more open and accountable about what it does and hoe it does itâ€?.

However, the document emphasises that in withdrawing or amending proposals “we are not saying that the aims of some of the proposals are wrongâ€?.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The document explains: “The Commission remains strongly committed to the objectives of the vast majority of the proposals it proposes to withdraw. But proposals are no use if they are sitting dormant on a negotiating table, if they are overtaken by events, or if in the course of negotiations they are watered down to a point where they can no longer achieve their initial purpose.

The document adds: “In some cases the Commission is proposing to withdraw proposals in order to replace them subsequently with more ambitious proposals or to tailor them more closely to its ten priorities…â€?

The ten priorities outlined in the document include: a new boost for jobs, growth and investment; a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy; a deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base; and to be a ‘stronger global actor’.

The draft document concludes: “The Commission awaits the views of the European Parliament and the Council on these proposals before formalising the withdrawals.â€?

Rumours

Rumours had been circulating in Brussels over the last few days that the proposals were likely to be scrapped altogether by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice President Frans Timmermans, who have both been meeting with chairmen of the political groups in the European Parliament to discuss the Commission’s 2015 legislative agenda (see airqualitynews.com story).

This had prompted widespread concern among UK MEPs and air quality campaigners, with Green Party MEP for South East England Keith Taylor this morning launching an online petition against scrapping the Clean Air Package. At the time of writing, the petition has collected 56 signatures.

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