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EU Parliament urged to keep vital Clean Air Package

Several UK campaigners and MEPs keep up pressure on European Parliament as it discusses Commission’s proposed legislative agenda for 2015

A group of MEPs and campaigners are keeping up the pressure on the EU by demanding that the proposed Clean Air policy package is maintained in its current form, rather than modified.

In December, the European Commission under President Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed its intention to drop a series of Clean Air legislative proposals developed by the previous administration and to instead modify elements of proposed stricter limits put forward in the National Emissions Ceiling Directive (see airqualitynews.com story).

Uncertainty still surrounds the European Commission's proposed Clean Air Package

Uncertainty still surrounds the European Commission’s proposed Clean Air Package

Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella later stressed that the policy package “remains on the table”, adding that he hoped an “ambitious agreement” could be reached soon (see airqualitynews.com story).

However, uncertainty still surrounds the future of the legislative proposals, with no timetable suggested for when they could be put forward for full EU approval.

As a result, a number of MEPs and campaigners have joined an online campaign aimed at influencing other MEPs, as the European Parliament today (January 7 2015) began discussions ahead of its final approval of the Commission’s 2015 workplan agenda slated for next Wednesday (January 15).

Friends of the Earth (FotE), which is leading the online campaign, said the idea was to ask MEPs “to oppose Frans Timmermans’ plan to modify the proposals on the Clean Air and Circular Economy packages” over the next week until January 15 when the European Parliament announces its decision.

FotE campaigner Jenny Bates said that the UK “needs clean air now” and also urged the European Parliament: “Please don’t let [Commission Vice President] Timmermans slow things down.”

The campaign has drawn support from UK MEPs, including the Green Party’s Keith Taylor as well as Labour’s Seb Dance, who has been at the European Parliament in Brussels today discussing the issue.

Labour MEP Theresa Griffin said today: “Labour MEPs are demanding that the Commission keeps vital Air Quality Package.”

And, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) today said the European Parliament “needs to be against changes to Clean Air and Circular Economy proposals. Europe needs them now without delay.”

Meanwhile, Alan Andrews, lawyer at environmental campaign group ClientEarth, urged supporters of the Clean Air Package to “keep up momentum on clean air”, adding that “more delay equals more deaths”.

The UK government has not commented on whether or not it supports maintaining the current draft Clean Air Package, although Defra minister Dan Rogerson said in Brussels in December that air quality limits set in the NEC Directive be set at a level “which injects the right level of ambition based upon evidence”.

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