EU executive clashes with MEPs on air quality rules
29 settembre, 2006
The European commission and parliament are headed for a clash over an EU air quality directive after MEPs amended the environment legislation on Tuesday. The European parliament overwhelmingly backed, 571 to 43 against, amendments by Holger Krahmer on the EU air quality directive, which aims to curb air pollution across Europe. According to EU figures, air pollution shortens the life of every EU citizen by an average of eight months and contributes to the premature deaths of 350,000 people across Europe each year. The commission’s proposal introduces a limit on airborne concentrations of fine particles (known as PM2.5) from 2010. Member states will also have to reduce exposure levels to PM2.5 by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2020. “I am pleased the parliament has endorsed our strategy for reducing air pollution and I acknowledge its expressed desire for even more ambitious levels of protection,” said environment commissioner Stavros Dimas. “However I am disappointed that the parliament’s amendments to the air quality directive appear to contradict this objective by weakening the legislation we have proposed in some key respects.” In particular, the commission is concerned at an amendment which would extend the deadline by which the member states must curb levels of the largest particles, known as PM10 particles. It is also unhappy with the parliament’s move to almost double the number of days a year on which the member states will be allowed to exceed the PM10 limit – from 35 to 55 days per year. Greens are furious at moves that take ceilings below US levels set to tackle air pollution. “It is a scandal that the parliament has voted to weaken the existing air quality rules in Europe despite clear evidence of the severe health consequences of air pollution,” fumed environment committee vice-chair Satu Hassi. Krahmer, on the other hand, argues that his report “is a balanced compromise between strict health protection and the flexibility needed at national level, notably for regions suffering from pollution coming from neighbouring countries”. On the 55 day limit for exceeding PM10 levels, he says there must be “greater flexibility for member states unable to meet the standards because of special geographical or climatic conditions or significant cross-boundary pollutions”. Krahmer also points out that his report calls for tighter annual limits on PM10 – to 33mg/cubic metre instead of the 40 proposed by the commission. The report is now in the hands of Europe’s environment ministers, who will vote on the proposal before the end of the year.