Press Release

Air pollution laws too weak to protect citizens’ health, EU auditors find

September 11, 2018

Today’s Court of Auditors report on air pollution shows that the EU is failing to protect its citizens’ health, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The standards set by the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive are actually weaker than the WHO guidelines, the report finds.

Most EU member states did not effectively implement the law. Their measurements were not reliable or representative, and too little effective action was taken, the report adds. Meanwhile, the European Commission has insufficient powers to force governments to take action against air pollution, the court also found.

T&E’s clean vehicles officer, Yoann Le Petit, said: “The new report is yet another wake-up call for the EU to seriously tackle the air pollution crisis we face every day. The Court of Auditors underlines not only that the EU air quality limits are out of touch with scientific recommendations. They also stress that even these lenient goals are not attained by most governments. Too many member states put their efforts into hiding the real extent of the problem from their citizens rather than cleaning up the air.”

The Court of Auditors calls for other EU laws – such as the car CO2 regulation – to take account of the need to improve air quality. It wants an ambitious review of the Ambient Air Quality Directive and an acceleration of its enforcement. It also calls for defined requirements for easy access to air quality data for citizens, which is currently difficult.

Yoann Le Petit concluded: “The report also shows the way forward: tighten the EU limits on air pollution, gather reliable data and align other policies with air quality goals. The ongoing work on CO2 standards for cars is rightly quoted as a great opportunity to do so.”

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