Air pollution is one of Europe’s hidden killers: Each year over 400,000 people die from causes related to poor air quality. This makes it the number one environmental threat to health in Europe, despite an encouraging decline in exposure to fine particles over the past two decades.
Several pieces of legislation have already been passed but implementation is slow to follow. The European Parliament yesterday adopted a report pushing governments to improve their record of implementing air quality laws. It also calls for the alignment of EU standards on four main pollutants with the recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
MEP Frédérique Ries (MR, BE), rapporteur for the Renew Europe group, is happy with the outcome, especially in light of the strong opposition:
‘We now have an ambition that matches the problem. At the same time, the obstruction of the EPP, the largest group in the European Parliament, says a great deal. A report which was in principle consensual, was almost hijacked for reasons clearly linked to German political issues.
So I’m relieved we got there in the end. We should not be talking about boosting health and beating cancer, to then undermine efforts that actually do the job. The Europe’s Green Deal committed us all to promoting a healthy environment in the interest of citizens' health, and that is what we will continue to do.’
MEP Vlad Gheorghe (USR, RO), shadow rapporteur on the file in the transport committee, also underlines the importance of this report: ’Sustainable transport is key in achieving zero-pollution goals and improve air quality. National, regional and local authorities need to make full use of EU funds and Commission expertise to guarantee good road infrastructure, green urban design and reliable air quality monitoring network.’
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