Juncker may scrap EU air quality proposals

Letter understood to have been sent by European Commission president this week stating that items adopted by previous Commission could be reviewed

The air quality package of measures — including proposed tighter EU pollution limits — developed by former European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik could be scrapped, according to sources in Brussels.

A letter is understood to have been sent from the office of the president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, this week to the newly appointed European Commissioners.

The European Commission’s circular economy package may be scrapped, sources report

The European Commission’s circular economy package may be scrapped, sources report

In the letter Mr Juncker has stated that items adopted by the former Commission may be subject to review. Crucially, this includes proposals on air quality and the circular economy.

Details of the full contents of the letter are yet to emerge, but it is believed that the wide scope of the proposals contained within the packages is of concern to the new president.

Commenting today on the letter (November 12), MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, and the Conservative Party’s spokesperson within the European Parliament Julie Girling, said that she thought the way the packages had been produced were “under scrutiny” but that she was “looking forward to hearing more detail”.

It follows the ‘surprise’ appointment of Maltese politician Karmenu Vella as the new Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in September (see story). He replaces Dr Potocnik, who stepped down at the beginning of the month, as the Commissioner with responsibility for air quality.

Former Commissioner Potocnik launched a package of air quality measures in December 2013, which focused on tackling emissions at source and included proposals for stricter limits in the National Emissions Ceilings Directive (NECD) for six pollutants to be met by 2020 and 2030 (see story).

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The NECD currently places limits on sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The proposed revision in the new package adds particulate matter (PM2.5) and methane (CH4) to this list.

It was estimated that the policy package — which could take a further 1-3 years to fully agree and implement — would help avoid 58,000 premature deaths with a cost benefit of around 40-140 billion Euros each year in 2030.


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