European Environment Ministers are meeting in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia today (10 April) for talks on steps being taken to improve air quality across the continent.
The high level talks come as a number of EU member states, including the UK, await further notice as to whether they are likely to face infringement proceedings for failing to meet air quality targets.
At the informal meeting today, which is being led by Bulgariaâ€™s Minister for Environment Dr Neno Dimov, ministers will discuss firm actions being put in place to address air pollution as well as the implementation of EU environmental legislation.
Details published ahead of the meeting suggest that ministers will consider â€˜viable solutions and concrete actionsâ€™ to Europeâ€™s air pollution problem.
A briefing from the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, states: â€œAir pollution is a serious environmental and social issue which poses many challenges related to the management and mitigation of the impact of harmful pollutants. This is an issue which all individual EU Member States, as well as the EU as a whole, are facing.
â€œThe time has come to reconsider the current approaches for solving these issues and to switch from visions and ambitions to viable solutions and concrete actions. Effective actions for reducing the impact of air pollution require profound changes both in policies as well as lifestyles and mind-sets.â€
Nine member states, the UK, Czech Republic,Â Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, are currently awaiting confirmation as to whether they will face infringement proceedings from the EU over failure to meet the 40 Âµg/m3 annual mean target for nitrogen dioxide, in force since 2010 (see airqualitynews.com story).
The European Commission is currently considering evidence produced by each of the countries as to why the deadlines have not been met, before taking a further decision on next steps.
Initially this had been expected to be finalised by the end of March, but sources now suggest that the decision is likely to be outlined within the Commissions next infringement cycle â€“ likely to be at the end of this month.
Ministers from the nine member states met with the EUâ€™s Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella in January, during which the Commissioner asked for details as to why nitrogen dioxide limits had not been met. The UK was represented at the meeting by the Defra minister Therese Coffey.