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New EU law to slash air pollution effects in half

The European Parliament and the European Council signed into law a Directive, obliging member states to produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 2019, reducing the five main air pollutants

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
14 December 2016, 4:34pm
The Directive is based on a Commission proposal that sets stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe
The Directive is based on a Commission proposal that sets stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe
The European Parliament and the European Council signed into law today the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which, when fully implemented, will slash by almost 50% the negative health impacts of air pollution, according to a statement issued by the European Commission.

The Directive is based on a Commission proposal that sets stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe and will enter into force on 31 December.

Member states must transpose the Directive into national legislation by 30 June 2018 and produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 2019 setting out measures to ensure that emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the percentages agreed by 2020 and 2030. Member states are also expected to coordinate with plans in fields such as transport, agriculture, energy and climate.

“The recently published Commission proposal for an Energy Union Governance Regulation highlights the importance of synergies between air quality and climate and energy policies and the new NEC Directive,” the European Commission said.

The Directive is the central element of the Commission's more comprehensive Clean Air Programme for Europe, which updated the air policy objectives for 2020 and 2030. It comprised a proposal on medium-sized combustion plants (Directive 2015/2193), the proposal for a new NEC Directive, and a proposal for ratification of the recently amended Gothenburg Protocol.

“The new European air quality rules are a significant landmark in the fight against this invisible killer that is air pollution,” environment commissioner Karmenu Vella said, adding that air pollution kills over 450 000 people in Europe each year. “This is more than 10 times as many as road traffic accidents. Now it is for the national governments to start with implementation so that people can benefit from cleaner air. We will work with member states to support them in this challenge for improving the health of EU citizens."