Press release

December 11, 2007


New Air Quality Law Too Foggy

(Brussels, December 11, 2007) – Today the European Parliament adopted an inadequate compromise agreement on the new Air Quality Directive, which was reached between representatives of the European Parliament and EU governments. EEB[1] sees the result as a messy legislative text providing little clear guidance to national and local authorities for cleaning the air in our cities.

John Hontelez, EEB’s Secretary-General, said, "Initially, this Directive was proposed to simplify existing air quality laws. It is ironic and sad that it now contains three different kinds of new exemptions, including how and when limit values for harmful particulate matter apply and what counts as pollution. This is not better regulation – it is more confusing regulation. It would have been better if the four old Directives addressing air quality were implemented correctly and on time.”

EEB is particularly disappointed with the adopted standards related to the fine dust particles which are particularly harmful to peoples’ health. The main limit value now set at 25 micrograms per cubic meter [2] will enter into force in 2015. This will not lead to a meaningful reduction of pollution as such concentration level is likely to be met anyway without any extra effort from Member States.

“Politicians have allowed the weakening of existing laws in order to get two new limit values for fine particles,” said Doreen Fedrigo, EEB’s EU Policy Unit Coordinator. “This might seem attractive at first, but in fact, it will not demand the required additional action that would improve air quality.”

Nonetheless, EEB is pleased to see that the Council did not give in to pressure to further delay deadlines for meeting existing standards for bigger particles (PM10). Meeting the limit values for PM10 may now be postponed from the original deadline of 2005 until 2011, while Parliament had asked for even longer postponement periods.

“Action on particulate matter cannot wait,” insists Dragomira Raeva, EEB’s air quality policy officer. “Luckily decision-makers did not relent to the excessive demands from Parliament regarding time extensions. Yet, even with 3 years, there is a risk that these extensions are a blank cheque for polluters.”

Notes for editors
[1] The EEB is a federation of over 145 environmental citizens’ organisations based in EU Member States and most accession countries. The main aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to promote knowledge and understanding of EU environmental and sustainable development policies amongst the general public in the EU to enable them to play their part in achieving that goal.

[2] Fine particles are also referred to as PM2.5. For PM2.5 three new standards have been proposed:

  1. a limit value of 25 µg/m3 (microgram per cubic meter) for total pollution to be met in 2015
  2. a limit value of 20 µg/m3 for background pollution in urban areas also to be met in 2015
  3. a non-binding target to further reduce the background pollution levels between 2010 and 2020

The World Health Organization has recommended PM2.5 concentration levels of 10µg/m3.

For furthe information please concat:
Dragomira Raeva
EEB Air Policy Officer
Tel:+32 (0)2 289 1307
Mobile:+32 (0) 488 583 023


Vanessa Bulkacz
EEB Press & Publications Officer

Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309


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