In December 2013, the Year of Air, the European Commission finalised its long-running air policy review to assess how the EU can “achieve levels of air quality that do not result in unacceptable impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment”, and adopted the new EU Air Policy Package, consisting of:
- The communication, ‘A Clean Air Programme for Europe’, which sets out targets for health improvements
- The National Emission Ceilings Directive aiming to reduce Member States emissions for five pollutants harmful to the human health and the environment: NOx, NMVOCs, SO2, NH3 and PM2.5.
- The Directive on Medium Combustion Plants (MCPD), setting emission limit values for combustion units with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 Megawatt thermal (MWth) and less than 50 MWth.
Ambient Air Quality Directive
European legislation on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (Directive2008/50/EC) sets air quality limit values that cannot be exceeded anywhere in the EU and obliges Member States to limit the exposure of citizens to air pollutants. In many Member States these air quality standards are being exceeded in urban areas. Many cities now face legal and political pressure to reduce ambient air quality concentrations in the short-term. As a response, restrictions on diesel and gasoline vehicles are being included in city air quality management plans. Further legal pressure may lead to harsher restrictions or bans.
FuelsEurope supports cost-effective solutions
FuelsEurope supports the principle of seeking cost-effective solutions to improve air quality in the EU. In order for domestic industry to be able to grow competitively, we believe that goals for environmental performance should take into account how far Member States can achieve them cost-effectively. At Municipal level FuelsEurope also supports the flexibility that cities have in implementing well targeted local actions (i.e., LEZs, vehicle identification, etc).
However, we strongly believe that legislation must be designed on the basis of a comprehensive risk management approach, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, through focusing on sound science, including cost-benefit and sensitivity analysis and a fair burden sharing between all sectors. Environmental performance goals should be drawn up in such a way that it will allow Member States’ domestic industries to compete effectively and continue their contributions to the recent great improvements in European air quality.