09 November, 2023
The European Respiratory Society (ERS) and European Lung Foundation (ELF) note the EU Council’s adoption of a negotiating mandate for the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive’s revision.
The EU Council mandate has too much flexibility and delay. We are concerned that the the 2030 deadline for full alignment with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines will not be met and that even compliance with considerably less strict limit values will be postponed by up to a decade.
The mandate includes far going flexibilities for any member states unable to meet deadline for full alignment due to ‘site-specific dispersion characteristics, adverse climatic conditions or transboundary contributions.’
If modelling application results demonstrate that a member state cannot meet WHO limit values on fine particulate matter by 2030, the Council’s text outlines that member states can request a postponement of a maximum of 10 years, until 1 January, 2040.
Prof. Barbara Hoffmann, ERS Advocacy Council Chair, said:
“A delay such as this would result in hundreds of thousands of additional premature deaths and diseases, and will come at a huge economic cost to the EU, as the Commission has shown. This delay means missed opportunities for economic growth and will result in missed opportunities for the elimination of energy poverty in Europe.”
Kjeld Hansen, Past ELF Chair, said:
“Respiratory patients depend on our decision makers to be bold and resolute when it comes to air quality. A delay is not helpful in this regard and it does not make good sense. We already know what is needed from the EU Commission, as the WHO and the EU Parliament has shown us the way. Unfortunately, a delay will be a lost opportunity, which will lead to suffering, economic and planetary costs.”
For information: The revised EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) sets out strict guidelines on air standards in Europe, including limit values for fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), benzene, arsenic, lead and nickel, among others).