In a first reading in September 2006, the European Parliament voted to give more flexibility for member states to comply with proposed limit values. In particular, MEPs insisted that air pollution is by nature a moving phenomenon which if more effectively tackled at the source (EurActiv 26/09/06).
"The largest percentage of pollutants is emitted from sources that have not been regulated so far, such as small combustion plants, agriculture or ships. It is time the Commission realises this and presents proposals," added Holger Krahmer MEP (Germany, ALDE), the rapporteur on the directive.
In a position paper on Euro5, the European car makers association ACEA said clean air measures proposed by the Commission's environment DG under the CAFE programme were based on incorrect cost estimates and should be revised. In particular, it confirms that setting a PM limit level of 5 mg/km will "force the fitment of diesel particle filters" which currently come at a high price for consumers. Generally speaking, ACEA says the clean air strategy does not fit with the need to improve the competitiveness of the EU car industry as presently discussed under the CARS 21 initiative.
Christian Pallière of the European Fertilizer Manufacturers Association (EFMA) said efforts to reduce pollution from ammonia is something EFMA have been working on with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for several years. "For us, what's new is that agriculture will now come under the EU CAFE (Clean Air for Europe) programme." But he says, "it is more an evolution than a revolution." "Fertilisers in themselves are not pollutants, Pallière points out. "It is their excessive use and bad handling which can be."
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) criticised the strategy for being "far too weak" and not going far enough in improving air quality. The EEB is especially critical that no legal obligation is set for reducing concentrations of fine particles (PM 2.5) and that only an indicative target is being set.
"A legally binding requirement to make real reductions on particle emissions would have been the only right answer. Instead, the Commission decided to postpone such target setting for many years and make the directive into a toothless tiger," says Kerstin Meyer, air pollution policy officer at the EEB.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) is also disappointed with the Commission's approach. T&E Director Jos Dings said: "In the field of transport, it is not a strategy - it is a collection of restatements of existing policies and some weak promises." What Dings finds more worrying is that policy measures linked to the strategy, such as the Euro5 standards for passenger cars, "also look terribly weak" and are the result of the Commission listening to "lowest-common-denominator industry groups".