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EU governments want to increase enforcement of air quality standards

EU environment ministers have said current air quality rules are fit for purpose, but more needs to be done to ensure standards are met.

The ‘Improvement of Air Quality’ meeting in Brussels on March 5 also acknowledged that ‘action taken at local, national and EU level has not always been sufficient to meet air quality standards’, and that ‘there is scope for improvements to the existing framework to ensure that good air quality is achieved across the EU’.

Civil society groups welcomed the conclusions issued by ministers following the meeting.

The conclusions represent the official position of EU governments following a two year long assessment of European air quality rules as part of a so-called ‘fitness check’ procedure. 

Ministers considered it ‘essential to keep using limit values in order to protect the health of citizens’, and agreed on ‘a possible closer alignment of the EU air quality standards with the WHO air quality guidelines’.

ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “Dirty air is an ongoing health crisis in Europe.

“We have the laws to address it but they can, and should, be strengthened as soon as possible.

“While the European Commission starts to work on a proposal to align EU air quality standards with the WHO recommendations, it has the power to immediately adopt implementing acts and give clear guidelines to competent authorities to ensure better air quality monitoring and stronger plans to clean up the air.”

Taddei saisd the EC must not hesitate to take strong legal action against governments failing to meet existing legal obligations to address illegal levels of air pollution.

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