28 October 2015
- Air Quality

Brussels, 28 October 2015

The European Parliament today voted on the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive, a piece of legislation which will set maximum binding air pollution levels within the European Union for the next 15 years.

In a welcome result Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s) voted to support a series of reduction commitments from 2020 to 2030, on a range of health damaging pollutants including methane and ammonia. However by not adopting the more ambitious plan put forward by the Parliament’s Environment Committee in July they missed an opportunity to save an additional 42,800 lives each year, from 2025 onwards.

While EFA welcomes the vote in support of setting a binding target for 2025, as the first step towards meaningful legislation on air pollution, we are disappointed that an opportunity to save even more lives has been missed. We hoped that MEP’s would seize this opportunity to adopt legislation to put the European Union on track to protect its citizens from dirty air, and one which made economic sense.

Over 400,000 people die prematurely each year because of air pollution, and it is estimated that the health costs from air pollution alone amount to 330 – 940 billion EUR a year.

Given the strong pressure from the farming sector urging for the exclusion of agricultural emissions and watering down of overall targets, we welcome the decision to retain the ammonia target, a pollutant which transforms naturally to become fine particles harmful to human health. 

Poor air quality exacerbates chronic diseases such as asthma, allergy and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which are amongst the most common in Europe.  Delaying emission reduction in Europe will not help industry, but will cost thousands of lives and impact the quality of life for millions living with these chronic conditions.

The air we breathe is directly impacting our health and should be cleaned up.  To do this we need ambitious legislation on pollution reduction, and sufficient investment to make it possible.

Given the recent Volkswagen scandal highlighting the need for more scrutiny and regulation, MEPs had an opportunity to show their commitment to cleaning up Europe’s air and improving the health of its citizens. While today’s vote fell short of that promise it will result in a positive move towards action on air quality. The vote taken today will impact not just on those with allergy, asthma, and COPD, but on all European citizens.


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The EFA Team