Wednesday

20th Mar 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.

EUobserved

Schoolkid 'climate strikers' outnumber MEPs at debate

In response to the now worldwide movement of concerned school children, the EU parliament held a debate about climate change. But those pupils attending were not allowed to speak, only to listen.

News in Brief

  1. EPP proposes suspension for Orban's Fidesz
  2. May asks for Brexit extension until 30 June
  3. Juncker: Brexit decision unlikely this week
  4. North Macedonia EU-membership talks set for June
  5. EU ups benefits rights for mobile workers
  6. Chinese leader visits Italy, France as Rome joins 'Silk Road'
  7. EU agrees to sanction political parties breaching data rules
  8. EPP votes Wednesday on future of Orban's party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  2. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  3. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  4. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  5. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  6. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  7. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  8. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us