Commentary: Dorette Corbey MEP on air-quality directive

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Corbey clarifies the Parliament’s position on the air quality directive.

Corbey contributed this piece in response to an article published on EURACTIV 
(Up in the air: EU ambient air quality standards).
 She is rapporteur on the thematic strategy on air pollution and shadow rapporteur on behalf of the PSE group on the air quality directive.

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On Monday 23 October the Environment Council adopted a position on the EU-standards for air quality, including the much debated standards for fine particles. In some respects the Council position differs from the position the European Parliament decided upon in September.

The Council wants – compared with the Parliament – less stringent standards for fine particles. Parliament, however, wants to grant member states more time to meet the stricter standards. This extra time (= derogation) is subject to certain conditions, member states have to make a serious effort to cut down air pollution in order to be granted the extra time. 

Three standards exist for fine particles:
1. A standard for relatively course particles PM10 (particles with a diameter up to 10 micrometre).
2. A standard for relatively fine particles PM2.5 (particles with a diameter up to 2.5 micrometre).

These two standards are yearly values aimed to regulate long-time exposure to air pollution. The third standard is a daily value aimed at short term exposure.

3. A daily value for course particles PM10.

The table below gives an overview of the positions on air-quality standards:

Commission proposal

Council position  EP position
Council PM2.5: 25 microgram per cubic metre, from 2010 onwards Council PM2.5: 25 microgram per cubic metre from 2010 onwards, binding from 2015 onwards Council PM2.5: 25 microgram pPM2.5: 20  microgram per cubic meter from 2010 onwards, binding from 2015 onwards
PM10 yearly value:  40 mg/m3 PM10 yearly value: 40 mg/m3 PM10 yearly value: 33 mg/m3 from 2010 onwards
PM10 daily value: 50 mg/m3 with 35 days exemption

PM10 daily value: 50 mg/m3 with 35 days exemption

PM10 daily value: 50 mg/m3 with 35 days exemption and from 2010 onwards 55 days exemption

extra time for member states

extra time for member states

extra time for member states 

PM2.5:until 2015 

PM2.5: no extra time

PM2.5: until 2013

PM10 yearly value: till 2010 

PM10 yearly value: till 2010 

PM10 yearly value: till 2013 

 

The Parliament wants stricter air-quality standards compared with the Council, but wants to give member states more time to meet them.

The Council has spoken, now it’s the Parliament’s turn again. The EP arrive at a new position by the beginning of 2007. There was a broad majority for the first-reading position, which will form the basis of the second-reading position.

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