Monday

20th May 2019

Dutch still aim for air quality deal during EU presidency

  • Protesters in Scotland demanding clean air (Photo: Friends of the Earth Scotland)

The Netherlands “will do its utmost” to reach a political deal on air quality targets for 2030 before its mandate as EU Council president expires at the end of this month, a source close to the presidency said Tuesday (14 June).

“The ambition of the Dutch presidency is to get as far as possible with the file, including reaching a political agreement,” he said ahead of a meeting of environment ministers next Monday (20 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Dutch politician Dijksma (c) herself is talking to representatives of the European Parliament. (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The Dutch politician chairing Monday's meeting, deputy minister for environment Sharon Dijksma, is personally involved by talking to representatives of the European Parliament.

The negotiations are about national air pollution limits, the so-called national emissions ceilings (NEC).

Last Wednesday, talks between representatives of national governments and the EP ended without an agreement. It was supposed to be the last negotiating round.

The EU source said that another negotiating round is possible before the end of the Dutch six-month presidency, which expires in 17 days.

“The discussions with both the parliament and the commission are ongoing, but we are aware that as of the 1st of July we will have to hand it over, if need be, to the next presidency,” he said.

The two sides disagree about several fundamental issues.

In its proposal published in December 2013, the European Commission had set national ceilings for each EU member state. Combined, the number of health problems and premature deaths due to air pollution were calculated to be reduced by 52 percent.

However, member states last year drew up their own version of the commission's table with national commitments.

There are 140 different ceilings: five pollutants for all 28 member states. Of those 140 targets, EU states propose to lower 115.

As a result, the combined health benefit will only be 48 percent, instead of 52 percent.

Another issue is that the EP wants an intermediate target for 2025, to make sure that member states are on track – many are having great difficulties meeting their current air quality targets.

But member states are reluctant on that.

“We don't want to be strictly monitored on the halfway point,” the contact said.

“Everything is solvable, but you need this rare ingredient: political will … It's not an easy exercise.”

MEPs snub regulation of cow methane

Methane is second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. But MEPs voted to exclude "enteric methane," which is 80 to 85 percent of agriculture's share of emissions.

Interview

EU dilemma: more milk or clean air

MEP Julie Girling is steering an air pollution bill through the European Parliament, as national governments try to lower targets.

Use 25% of budget on climate change, urge EU states

A discussion document by eight EU countries is piling on the pressure for the EU to do more to fight climate change. But their demands are likely to meet German resistance as leaders gather in Romania to discuss Europe's future.

Single EU railway signalling system faces delays

'A reality check shows that we are already falling a little bit behind in the first few years,' said the new coordinator for the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS).

News in Brief

  1. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment
  2. 80% of Erasmus students find job within three months
  3. September elections in Austria after Strache scandal
  4. Swiss voters approve tighter gun controls in line with EU
  5. Report: May's fourth Brexit vote a 'retread' of old ideas
  6. Turkey insists on right to drill for oil off Cyprus coast
  7. Anti-Salvini banners become new trend in Italy
  8. EU flies rainbow flag on anti-homophobia day

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us