Environment Commissioner and Defra comment on uncertainty surrounding proposed EU air quality regulations
European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella has said this morning (December 17) that the Clean Air Package of policy proposals “remains on the tableâ€? and that he hopes an “ambitious agreement can be reachedâ€? soon.
And, Defra minister Dan Rogerson also said the UK government “looks forwardâ€? to receiving more information from the Commission on the next steps for the legislation.
Addressing Member States’ environment ministers at a meeting of the European Council’s Environment Committee, Mr Vella addressed concerns surrounding the uncertain fate of the previous administration’s Clean Air proposals.
Speaking in Brussels today, Mr Vella said: “Let me stress that the entire air package remains on the table and will be discussed jointly with the European Parliament and the Member States with a view to finding an ambitious agreement.â€?
The Commission yesterday (December 1) confirmed its intention to drop the Clean Air Package in its current form from the 2015 work programme and to instead modify “controversialâ€? elements of the National Emissions Ceiling Directive proposals (see airqualitynews.com story).
Mr Vella continued: “We have announced that we will bring forward during negotiations modified proposals on National Emissions Ceilings which better reflect synergies with the energy and climate package and which better reduce administrative burdens.
“I stress that we are not compromising on the goals we want to attain, but we are looking critically at the methods which we can use to bring parties together so that we can have an outcome implemented soon so that we can achieve cleaner air in the EU. We are optimistic that agreement can be reached.â€?
Mr Vella’s comments came during a Council discussion on proposed legislation regarding limiting emissions from medium combustion plants, which he described as a “key component of the air quality package proposed by the Commissionâ€?.
Emissions from medium combustion plants are currently unregulated at European level, and the Council today adopted a ‘general approach’ towards taking the proposals forward to the European Parliament.
Also speaking at the meeting in Brussels, UK environment secretary Dan Rogerson MP said he wanted to ensure that 2030 air quality limits outlined in proposals for the NEC Directive had the “right level of ambition based upon evidenceâ€?.
He said: “We support the aim too in the National Emissions Ceiling Directive proposal to address air pollution across Europe and to implement the Gothenburg Protocol. We recognise the significant overlap between air quality and climate policy and look forward to working with the Commission to maximise synergies with the climate and energy package.
“The UK will continue to work with the Commission, the Parliament and Member States to discuss the modifications of the proposal and to ensure that ceilings for 2030 in the NEC Directive are set at a level which injects the right level of ambition based upon evidence.
“We look forward to receiving further information from the Commission on the next steps on these areas of work and also the timings to modify proposals and we hope that this will be taken forward with some urgency.â€?
Also commenting on the current uncertain fates of the Clean Air and Circular Economy proposals, a Defra spokeswoman this morning (December 17) said: “We’re committed to improving air quality and making better use of our resources – we will continue to work closely with the European Commission as they bring forward their modified proposals.â€?