THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
PRESS RELEASE – Strasbourg, 26 September 2006
– Greens fume at EP vote to weaken EU air pollution rules
Following the vote by the European Parliament on the Air Quality Directive (1) in plenary today, Finnish Green MEP and vice-chair of the Environment Committee Satu Hassi said:
“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. With estimates suggesting that the health damage caused by air pollution is responsible for more than 350,000 premature deaths in Europe each year, resulting in health costs of up to 9% of EU25 GDP, it seems almost unthinkable that the current rules would be relaxed but that is exactly the situation we are facing.
“As it stands, the pollution limits in the proposed revision fall far short of the limit values recommended by the World Health Organisation for the key pollutant PM10 (particulate matter 10). Worse still, the EP has recommended almost doubling the amount of days a year on which Member States will be allowed to exceed these limit values from 2010 (2). For the pollutant PM2.5, Californian and even US federal air quality rules require limit values that are almost twice as strict as those being recommended by the EP (3). On top of this the EP has agreed to give Member States 6 years to meet the current air pollution limits, where even the Council agreed that 3 years is sufficient (4).”
“It is now up to Council to ensure that this revision is not merely an exercise in watering down the existing rules. If this proves to be the case, the Commission must withdraw its proposal. We cannot accept weaker rules, which would lead to an exacerbation of the already significant health problems caused by air pollution in Europe.”
(1) The report (Krahmer) on revising current air quality legislation was adopted by the European Parliament today, Tuesday.
(2) The WHO has recommended a daily limit value of 50µg of PM10 with 3 days on which this can be exceeded, with an annual limit of 20µg. Under a compromise amendment adopted by the EP, EU rules would allow for the limit to be exceeded on 55 days each year and set an annual limit of 33µg.
(3) California air quality laws require a PM2.5 limit value of 12µg by 2003, while the EP compromise on PM2.5 would set a limit value of 20µg only by 2015.
(4) The Environment Council agreed in June that Member States should be given until 2009 to meet the current limits, while the EP has set 2012 as the date for the limits to be met.