Air pollution is one of Europe’s hidden killers, as 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 to improve air quality, but implementation has been slow to follow. On 25 March, the European Parliament adopted a report pushing governments to improve their record of implementing air quality laws. The report also calls for the alignment of EU standards on four main pollutants, based on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Frédérique Ries MEP (MR, Belgium), Rapporteur for the Renew Europe Group, is pleased with the recent progress on this issue, especially considering the strong opposition to it:
“The European Parliament now has an ambition that matches the problem. At the same time, obstruction by 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.”
“I’m relieved the European Parliament got there in the end. The EU should not be talking about boosting health and beating cancer, to then undermine efforts that actually do the job. The European Green Deal has committed us all to promoting a healthy environment in the interest of citizens' health, and that is what we will continue to do.”
Vlad Gheorghe MEP (USR, Romania), Shadow Rapporteur on the file in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, also underlined the importance of this report: “Sustainable transport is key in achieving zero-pollution goals and improving air quality. National, regional and local authorities need to make full use of EU funds and EU Commission expertise to guarantee good road infrastructure, green urban design and reliable air quality monitoring networks.”