The European Commission believe the proposals will reduce yearly health expenditure across the continent by €7bn to €28bn and prevent about 13,000 premature deaths a year.

The agreement, signed today (25 June), brings the European Union one step closer to new legislation on industrial pollution.

Currently, emissions are covered by seven rules, which include many opt outs, today’s decision brings all of them into one piece of legislation while also making it harder to avoid.

Existing factories and plants will have to comply with the new limits, which have not been announced by the EU, by 2016 – with new buildings will have to do it by 2012.

However, EU countries have the option to phase in the rules, which still need to go through a second reading at the European Parliament, up until the end of 2020.

Stavros Dimas, EU commissioner, said: “Industrial emissions in the EU are still very high.

“It is absolutely vital that these emissions be reduced, especially by those industrial plants that pollute the most.

“Today’s agreement brings us one step closer to substantial emission reductions from industrial plants, which will decrease the exposure of European citizens to harmful pollutants and significantly improve the health of the environment.”

Luke Walsh

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