Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Air quality

Air quality - 07.10.2014

“Too much flexibility should not be granted to Member States”, underlines CEMR
Member states should not be offered greater flexibility to respect national emission ceilings for certain pollutants. This is the message local government are conveying to the European Commission and Parliament in the framework of the revision of the National Emission Ceilings directive.

CEMR supports the concerns of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) about Member States’ enhanced flexibility to achieve national emission ceilings. This could indeed be rendered possible through a flexibility mechanism currently under consideration and entitled “trade-off”. The system would give EU Member States the possibility to reduce their efforts in controlling emissions of some pollutants, as long as they can go beyond the reductions required for others.

In the light of this, CEMR fully backs what the European Environmental Bureau’s expressed in a statement released earlier this week:

This so-called flexibility mechanism is a blatant attempt to weaken the air quality standards that protect people’s health across Europe. It is a bit like saying to a driver that if he drives slower than the speed limit on one stretch of road, he can drive faster than the speed limit on another stretch. With 400,000 people across the EU dying prematurely every year because of air pollution, we need enforceable and strong reduction commitments.

Also worth reading: Cleaner air for all - Why is it important and what should we do?

The EU Commission presented its clean air package in December 2013. Its aim is to update existing legislation, including a revised National Emission Ceilings directive with stricter national emission ceilings for four main pollutants (SO2, NOx, COV, NH3), plus two new ones (PM 2.5 and CH4).
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