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MEPs’ response to delay of new EU Clean Air policy looms

EU liberal and Democrat group of MEPs says it disagrees strongly with proposed withdrawal of air quality package

A group of Liberal and democrat MEPs in the European Parliament have put forward a draft resolution that disagrees strongly with the European Commissions withdrawal of the proposed Clean Air Package of legislative measures.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group, which includes 68 of the 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), has drafted a resolution for approval by the Parliament stating that EU action on air quality is timely, necessary and expected by EU citizens.

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France

Supported by UK MEP and ALDE group member and Catherine Bearder, the draft resolution puts forward a position that the Parliament disagrees strongly with proposed withdrawal … of the legislative proposals on the Waste policy review and on Air pollution since Union action in these fields is timely, necessary and expected by EU citizens; insists that these proposals are not withdrawn in order for the European Parliament and the Council of Minister to continue their work on the current proposals.

The European Parliament has been in discussion over the last week over its response to the European Commissions legislative agenda for 2015 and will look to finalise the wording of MEPs joint resolution on the workplan by midday tomorrow (January 14). The final resolution will then be voted on the following day.

A spokesman for Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said the ALDE group is currently discussing the wording of its draft resolution with other political groups, adding: We hope that the final text of the joint resolution will send a strong signal to the Commission that MEPs are opposed to the withdrawal of these important pieces of legislation.

The Ms Bearder is the only UK MEP in the ALDE group, which comprises members from 20 countries of the EU and is led by Belgian Liberal party member Guy Verhofstadt.

The ALDE group comprises 68 MEPs

The ALDE group comprises 68 MEPs

Uncertainty currently surrounds proposed air quality legislation following President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junckers confirmation in December 2014 that the Clean Air Package would be dropped from this years workplan in its current form and modified in future (see airqualitynews.com story).

But despite Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vellas later assertion that the policy package remains on the table and that he hopes an ambitious agreement can be reached soon, there are fears among UK campaigners and politicians that this could lead to a weakening of the air quality proposals.

Pressure

The ALDE groups draft resolution is just the latest showing of support for the Clean Air Package Over the last week, with several campaigners and MEPs attempting to exert pressure by urging the Commission to keep the vital legislative proposals (see airqualitynews.com story).

A letter sent out to MEPs yesterday (January 12) from the European Environment Bureau (EEB) signed by UK campaign group ClientEarth and several other European bodies also called on the Parliament to oppose any delay in the negotiations on a revised National Emissions Ceilings Directive.

The letter states: It is now absolutely necessary that the European Parliament adopts a joint resolution asking for the ongoing negotiations on the revised NEC Directive to continue and not be delayed. Given the widespread harmful impacts of air pollution throughout the European Union, any withdrawal or delay of the revised proposal would be unacceptable.

Environmental health, lawyers and civil society organisations also signed the letter, including: Air Pollution & Climate Secretariat (AirClim); the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA); the European Health Alliance (EPHA); the European Respiratory Society (ERS), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), and; Transport and Evironment (T&E).

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