European Commission adopts programme to combat air pollution by 2004

The European Commission has launched its ‘Clean Air for Europe’ programme in an attempt to ensure that all European citizens can breath clean air, and to provide information on air pollution to the public.

The programme was the first strategy announced in the Commission’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme (see related story), and is intended to prepare the European Union for 2004 when many of the existing air quality directives come up for revision. In particular, Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) will focus on particulate pollution and ground-level ozone, and is intended to provide the framework for new national emission ceilings. On top of this, CAFE is intended to address the remaining problems associated with acidification, eutrophication and damage to buildings, as well as keeping an eye out for emerging problems from currently unregulated pollutants. Attention will also have to be paid to ‘hotspot’ areas where emission densities are especially high.

As part of the CAFE strategy, by 2004 an in-depth review of the adequacy and effectiveness of existing European Community legislation will have been carried out, with indicators of air quality and deposition made available for public information. The strategy will also include an analysis of further emission reduction measures needed to meet air quality deposition targets, and a status report on measures to reduce emissions from specific source categories such as motor vehicles and large combustion plants.

“We have come a long way in reducing air pollution, but we have not yet achieved our final objective, that is to make sure that everybody in Europe, even those who are particularly vulnerable to bad air, can breathe freely without being concerned about their health,” said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström. “Clean Air for Europe should provide us the means for attaining this objective.”

CAFE will also provide scientific and technical information to policy makers on subjects such as evidence on the effects of air pollution, and the cost-effectiveness of potential abatement strategies. The scheme will also evaluate the effectiveness of existing ‘clean air’ legislation.

“Transparency, stakeholder involvement and cost-effectiveness will continue to be guiding principles for EU air quality policy,” said Wallström.

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