Clean air agenda

The European Commission adopts a comprehensive plan to combat air pollution

Published: Friday 15 June 2001

Clean Air for Europe (cafe), a programme recently launched by the European Commission, aims to disseminate information about air pollution and prepare the European Union for 2004, when many of the existing air quality directives will require revision. The programme is the first strategy announced as part of the commission's Sixth Environmental Action Programme. cafe will focus on particulate pollution and ground-level ozone. It will also provide the framework for new national emission ceilings and address problems associated with acidification, eutrophication and damage to buildings. The programme will oversee emerging problems related to unregulated pollutants.

As part of the cafe strategy, by 2004, adequacy and effectiveness of existing European laws will be reviewed, with indicators of air quality made available to public. The strategy will also comprise 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 are yet to achieve our objective -- 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 European Union environment commissioner Margot Wallstrm. The programme also suggests policy changes by providing scientific and technical information on issues such as effects of air pollution and the cost-effectiveness of potential abatement strategies. "Transparency, stakeholder involvement and cost-effectiveness will be the guiding principles for European Union air quality policy," claims Wallstrm.

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