EU countries attacked over ozone pollution

Rapporteur MEP calls for draft directive targets to be made tougher, more binding

The European Parliament's rapporteur on draft EU rules to control smog through stricter limits on ozone pollution has accused several EU governments of having no intention of meeting targets they themselves agreed to last year.

The allegation is contained in a report to the European Parliament by British liberal MEP Chris Davies, to be debated by the assembly's environment committee tomorrow, Wednesday. Mr Davies calls for proposed limits on ambient ozone levels to be made stricter plus more binding.

Mr Davies says he is "deeply cynical" of a first-reading ministerial pledge to limit exceedences of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended safe ozone concentration to 25 days annually by 2010 (ENDS Daily 10 October 2000). Governments only agreed to achieve the target "as far as possible," he complains, leaving ample scope to fall short of the mark.

The directive was proposed by the European Commission in 1999 together with a related proposal on national emission ceilings (ENDS Daily 9 June 1999). It was framed with only loosely binding language in a bid to keep on board southern EU member states with sunny climates, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, where urban ozone exceedences can reach 60 days annually.

But Mr Davies is now urging fellow MEPs to use the parliament's second reading to reiterate demands for a fully binding commitment to limit annual exceedences of WHO's 120 microgram per cubic metre (ug/m3) figure to just 20 days. He also wants to introduce a no-exceedence requirement by 2020 - a target deemed unrealistic by both the council and Commission - and proposes a general tightening of other provisions such as information and monitoring obligations.

Follow Up:
European Parliament environment committee, tel: +32 2 284 2111, and the Davies report.

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