Today, the plenary of the European Parliament (EP) approved the revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD). The document – proposed by the Commission to the European Parliament, with MEP Javi Lopez as main rapporteur – was approved by 363 votes in favor, 226 against and 46 abstentions. Once endorsed in plenary, the three-way negotiations between the Parliament, the Commission and the European Council will now begin for its final approval.
Salud por Derecho welcome the approval of this new European directive; it is an important step to address one of the main threats to the health of all people living in Europe. “Following the intense debate in the European Parliament, with such divergent positions, it is a relief to know that the directive is moving forward successfully, addressing some of the most important issues and demands that we have been demanding from civil society: air pollution limits aligned with the most recent scientific studies and with the WHO recommendations updated in 2021, which will be mandatory for all Member States; enhancer protection for children and other vulnerable populations; as well as improved access to information on air quality for citizens”, says Irene Bernal, responsible for the European Commission’s Health by Right.
“However, we are disappointed to learn that, in last-minute negotiations, the deadline for implementing these urgent measures by member states has been postponed from 2030 to 2035. The data show that, in the fight against air pollution, every day counts and a five-year extension is too long,” says Bernal.
It should be remembered that 98% of people living in Europe are exposed to levels of pollution that are harmful to their health, according to the WHO, and that the same air pollution causes 300,000 premature deaths a year across the continent and is the cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, cancers and pregnancy problems.
In this context, it is urgent to implement ambitious policies, such as this new regulation, to tackle the problem. Its approval becomes even more relevant at a time like the present when climate denialism is on the rise, also in our country, and we see how many of the advances of recent years are suffering a setback for ideological reasons.
We hope that in the next phase of negotiations between the European Commission, the European Council and the Parliament, the text will not be modified and will maintain the agreements reached during the parliamentary process.
Likewise, we ask the Spanish Government that during the remaining months of its presidency of the European Union it makes the processing and approval of this directive in its most ambitious version a priority, so that the whole process will be completed by the time the next European elections take place in June 2024.
El Parlamento Europeo apoya por mayoría la aprobación del informe de @javilopezEU sobre Calidad del Aire.
Es una gran noticia para la #salud de todas las personas en Europa.
— Salud por Derecho (@Saludporderecho) September 13, 2023