On 1 December 2020, Croatian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Tonino Picula of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The European Environment Agency (EEA) recently published an annual report on air quality in the EU, in which it listed Croatia among six EU countries that had exceeded the limit values for fine particulate matter in 2018. The EEA estimates that exposure to fine particulate matter caused around 417 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2018.
Last week’s data from the Croatian Agency for the Environment and Nature certainly reveals worrying results, with a high concentration of pollutants recorded in the capital Zagreb.
1. How is the Commission cooperating with the EEA to improve air quality in our cities and countries?
2. What measures can the Commission take to prevent such cases of air pollution in the Member States, which are harmful to human health?”
On 2 February 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “ The Ambient Air Quality Directives define and establish objectives for ambient air quality to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment.
Where ambient air quality does not meet these objectives, Member States must take measures, to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The choice of which measures to implement is up to the Member States’ competent authorities. In line with Commission Decision 2011/850/EU, the European Environment Agency facilitates the reporting of official air quality information from EU Member States to the Commission, by maintaining an ambient air quality portal to which the public has access.
In its communication ‘A Europe that protects Clean Air for All’ of 17 May 2018, the Commission set out the wide-ranging policy efforts to support and facilitate the necessary measures of the Member States to meet their targets.
This includes enforcement action to help ensure that the common objective of clean air is achieved and maintained across the EU, as well as good practice exchanges through Clean Air Dialogues, the Environmental Implementation Review and its Peer-to-Peer tool.
In the financial period 2014-2020, EUR 18.7 million of the European Regional Development Fund have been earmarked for investments in the upgrade and modernisation of the air quality monitoring network and measures to improve air quality in cities with over 10 000 inhabitants.
Finally, the European Green Deal outlined a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment, which requires more action to prevent pollution from being generated as well as measures to clean and remedy it. To address these challenges, the Commission intends to adopt in 2021 a Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/pollution-air-pollution-smoke-4001554/