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S&Ds: “Less air pollution will save lives and safeguard public health”


22 Apr 2024


Climate & Environment

On Wednesday, the European Parliament is ready to give its approval to the agreement forged with the EU Council on the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive, establishing more stringent regulations to combat air pollution. 

Air pollution results in an alarming 300,000 premature deaths annually within the European Union, contributing to a spectrum of illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, respiratory issues, diabetes, dementia, and lung cancer. 

Leading the negotiations on the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive, the S&Ds have been pivotal in making air quality monitoring across Europe more effective, introducing the concept of ‘air pollution hotspots’ to ensure that air pollution is monitored in areas where the population is exposed to significant pollution sources. Our Group also strengthened the provisions on public information and the protection of the most vulnerable groups through the expansion of information thresholds to other pollutants not covered by current legislation. Another key victory for the Group is the introduction of the right to compensation for individuals adversely affected by air pollution.

Javi López, S&D MEP and chief negotiator of the European Parliament on the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, said:

“Every year, Europe confronts the devastating impact of air pollution, with 300,000 premature deaths. In response to this silent pandemic, the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive will update our standards – some of which are 15 to 20 years old – by introducing more stringent limit values. Led by the S&D Group, this comprehensive revision reflects our unwavering commitment to protecting public health and addressing health inequalities.

“Our efforts have primarily focused on enhancing air quality monitoring at critical pollution hotspots, strengthening protections for the most vulnerable populations, and empowering local authorities to effectively enforce this vital legislation.”

Tiemo Wölken, S&D coordinator for the environment committee, said:

"The impacts of air pollution hit hardest among working-class European citizens, who often lack the resources to relocate to less polluted areas or invest in air filtration systems. It is our collective duty to ensure that our air is safe for everyone, rich or poor, young or old.

"Municipalities and industries need clear objectives and roadmaps. This ambitious directive provides them with the certainty that citizen well-being and public health must come first."


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