New EU ozone pollution law agreed

Environmentalists disappointed as conciliation deal makes targets mandatory only if costs "proportionate"

EU governments and MEPs have agreed on a new directive to tackle smog pollution, the European parliament announced today. Under a deal approved by a majority of the assembly's conciliation delegation yesterday, EU member states will have to make sure a World health organisation (WHO) standard for ozone is not exceeded more than 25 times each year by 2010, except where this is "not achievable through proportionate measures".

The accord brings to a close more than two years of institutional wrangling over the law, which is closely linked to a directive on national emission ceilings for four air pollutants, and which also had to be finalised through the conciliation procedure (EED 02/10/01). Two of these groups of pollutants, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, are ozone precursors.

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