Juncker air quality policy review letter emerges

In response, a number of MEPs have also urged the European Commission to continue to support the proposals

The letter from President of the European Commission to 26 Commissioners setting out plans for the new administration to review the recently-developed air quality package of measures has emerged.

However, eight MEPs have urged the Commission to continue to support the policy package, emphasising what they see as “crucial health benefits” to European citizens from the measures.

Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder has also separately come out in defence of the air quality package of measures.

The European Commission building in Brussels

The European Commission building in Brussels

Dated November 7 2014 in Brussels, the letter from President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans sets out their plans to develop the new Commission’s first Work Programme (CWP) for 2015.

Every year the Commission sets out its priorities for the coming 12 months in a CWP, and the Juncker letter states that the CWP 2015 “will be crucial to mark a change from the past”.

And, as reported yesterday (November 12) by, appendices to the letter list policy packages which are to be reviewed by the new Commission, including proposed air quality and circular economy measures developed by the previous Commission within the past year.

The air quality package focuses on tackling air pollution at source and includes proposals for Member States to meet stricter limits in the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD) for six pollutants to be met by 2020 and 2030. The NECD currently includes limits for four pollutants (see story).

The Juncker letter also invites member of the Commission to examine all pending proposals in their policy areas and to “signal those which we should review together, for example because they have no realistic chance of being adopted in the near future or because the degree of ambition achievable does not match the objectives sought”.

President Junker plans to adopt the CWP 2015 on December 16 in Strasbourg, according to the letter, and while he admits that “this timing is ambitious” he adds that this “demonstrates our determination to generate early momentum”.

According to the letter, members of the Commission will now work together in “thematic ad-hoc groups” of Vice Presidents and Commissioners towards the CWP. These groups will meet in the week beginning on Monday (November 17).

Lib Dem MEP

Responding to the letter today (November 12), Catherine Bearder – MEP for South East England – commented on what she described as Present Juncker’s “kill list” of legislative proposals from the previous President Barroso Commission.

Described as one of the ‘lead negotiators’ on the EU’s new air quality package, Catherine Bearder said: “We all want to see smarter, more efficient EU regulation but this cannot come at the expense of our environment and air quality. Juncker must recognise the huge economic opportunities of moving toward a cleaner and more resource-efficient economy.

“Europe cannot afford to fall behind in the race to develop the green technologies of the future.”

MEP response

In response to the plans for a policy review, a number of MEPs have written to both President Junker and the new Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries — Karmenu Vella — to “strongly emphasise the on-going work of the European Commission’s proposal for an air policy review which will bring health benefits for European citizens”.

After wishing President Junker and Commissioner Vella “all the best for your important work promoting sustainable development in the years ahead”, the letter goes on to state that the proposals “were presented based on lengthy preparations and thorough analysis by the Commission and following repeated calls by the Parliament”.

The letter adds: “We would also like to emphasise that the 7th Environmental Action Programme explicitly demands action in these fields.”

Dated November 11, the letter is signed by eight MEPs, non of whom are from the UK: Giovanni La Via, Dr Peter Liese, Matthias Groote, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Bas Eickhout, Simona Bonafe, Karl-Heinz Florenz, Sirpa Pietikainen.

It concludes: “Therefore we expect the Commission to continue to support the circular economy package as a whole as well as the air policy review, and we look forward to a good-co-operation with you.”


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