Recent years have seen air quality deteriorate throughout various parts of Europe, despite relatively strong air quality standards in the European Union. With that reality in mind, it was recently announced that the European Commission would begin a much stricter enforcement of the rules. Will it?
Judging by the comments made by EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella during a recent media conference, I’m now somewhat optimistic. 🙂
Following a meeting with environment ministers from 9 EU countries where air quality problems have long persisted, Vella was quoted as saying that his patience was worn and that changes would be coming.
“The deadlines for meeting the legal obligations have long elapsed, and some say we have waited already too long, but we can delay no more, and I have made this very clear to ministers this morning,” Vella stated.
Referencing the need for new measures to be designed and implemented by various countries if air quality was to be brought under control, Vella continued: “In our exchange, there were some positive suggestions, but I have to say that at first sight, these were not substantial enough to change the bigger picture.”
Vella stated that EU members still had a week or so to update their proposals, though, so as to make them more effective/ambitious.
Reuters provides more: “The European Commission said on Tuesday it would get tough on air quality and penalize members that breached EU rules on pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.
“The Commission estimates that 400,000 people die every year as the result of airborne pollution, and targets introduced for 2005 and 2010 are still being exceeded in 23 of 28 EU countries. … The EU Commission can take countries to Europe’s top court if they breach EU law. Poland as well as Bulgaria have already faced legal action over air quality issues.”
Countries that are currently regularly exceeding air quality pollutant limits include those dominant in the European Union — amongst which are the two biggest economies in the bloc, Germany and France.