The 7th Environmental Action Programme
In April the ENVI committee of the European Parliament adopted amendments to the 7th Environmental Action Programme. According to the committee the EU should develop a strategy for indoor air quality and respect WHO indoor and outdoor air quality guidelines. EFA advocated for and welcomes this decision. A common comprehensive and urgent response is needed based on the recognition that outdoor and indoor air is basically the “same air” that affects our lungs. More about the 7th EAP can be found here.
Tobacco Product Directive
On April 24 MEP Linda McAvan (S&D) finally presented her report on the Tobacco Product Directive to the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament. EFA advocated for and welcomes rapporteur’s position on plain packaging which proposes to go even further than the original directive proposed by the European Commission! Presentation of McAvan’s report was then followed by discussion on plain packaging, pictorial warnings, snus, and e-cigarettes. Special attention was also given to so-called slim cigarettes and their effect on young women. EFA has been advocating for a strengthened directive to prevent young people from starting to smoke, help smokers to quit and in general safeguard the health of European citizens, including patients.
Medical Devices Regulation
MEP Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (S&D) presented her report on the Medical Device Regulation to the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament. The main change compared to the Commission’s proposal is the insertion of a pre-market authorization system similar to that of medicinal products. EFA has been monitoring this topic very closely to ensure that the perspective of people with allergy and respiratory diseases is taken into consideration, patients’ safety and involvement are enhanced and transparency strengthened.
The Review of Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution
Representatives of Member States, industry, NGOs and other international stakeholders met on April 3 in Brussels to further discuss the review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution. This strategy is designed to achieve better levels of air quality and its main objective is confirmed in the recently adopted proposal for a new EU Environment Action Programme. At the meeting results of the online public consultation were presented together with studies on socio-economic impacts, emission reduction proposals and new scientific evidence on air pollution and health.
For the on-line public consultation, the European Commission received 1934 responses from general public and 371 responses from experts and stakeholders (including EFA). According to the results, EU citizens and stakeholders are in favour of strengthening emission controls, while industry is less inclined to do so. Similarly, citizens, NGOs and experts are calling for bringing emission limits closer to WHO guidelines, while industry is not in favour of this option.
On the basis of scientific evidence provided by WHO, there is a substantial scope for future emission reductions from dedicated air pollution control measures. The WHO also presented new findings that air pollution affects asthma and airways diseases and declared that WHO air quality guidelines have to be revised. Even though the Commission foresees ambient air quality standards, they will still be under values identified by WHO.
Prior the meeting, EFA together with other 60 NGOs signed a letter addressed to all three European institutions calling to adopt emission reductions and sector legislation and enforce air quality limit values. EFA office in Brussels will continue its activities and monitoring of development in the EU air quality policy.