European air strategy : New tougher national caps on pollutants.
On 28 October 2015 the European Parliament approved the new national caps on emissions proposed by the European Commission. The European Union (E.U.) set new goals concerning the combat against air pollution.
Why this legislation is important ?
This legislation will enforce the European air strategy concerning the air quality. Air pollution represents an enormous danger for the economy and people’s health. In fact, air pollution causes 400.000 premature deaths every year in the E.U. and high healthcare costs for vulnerable groups such as children and asthmatics. The E.U. is working to improve air quality by controlling emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere.
The proposal approved by the European Parliament
So, the E.P. approved the proposed caps for sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), methane (CH4) ammonia (NH3), and fine particulates (PM, less than 2.5 micrometers), to be achieved by 2030, as proposed by the Commission. This plan, approved by the E.P., constitutes a new effective measure. The European Union not only has plans but also acts for the air protection.
Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC and PM 10
Furthermore, tiny particles known as PM 10, lead to premature death, respiratory problems and lung cancer. The European legislation sets limit values for PM10 by the New Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC and demands from each Member State to eliminate the citizens’ exposure to these particles. This directive on air quality and cleaner air was activated on 11 June 2008 and includes exposure reduction targets and the possibility of time extension concerning the compliance with the limit values. Last but not least, we have to mention that European Commission referred this June Belgium and Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice over high levels of the dust particles, that represent a huge risk for public health. Despite the Directive 2008/50/EC that poses the obligation of Member States to ensure air quality for citizens and to take measures, Belgium and Bulgaria did not take sufficient measures to solve this problem and to reduce PM10 emissions. As long as the deadline was over and measures had not been adopted the Commission took action and led the case to the Court.
To sum up these new national caps on pollutants voted by the E.P., the Directive 2008/50/EC and this current example of European justice illustrate a new hopeful age of European action against air pollution.