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The European Parliament adopted today by a large majority – with 381 in favour, 225 against, and 17 abstentions – the provisional trilogue agreement on the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD), to update the EU’s clean air standards dating from 2008.

The EU Healthy Air Coalition, representing medical doctors, healthcare professionals, patient organisations and health insurers, welcomes the support for people’s health shown by MEPs today, and calls on member states to confirm the trilogue deal speedily, to set the EU on the path for improved air quality. 

The Health and Environment Alliance – Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director: 

Clean air is a question of political will, not an individual or lifestyle choice. We’re delighted that MEPs have shown today their firm commitment to cleaning up air for hundreds of millions of people across the European Union. Now the confirmation of the AAQD package by member states should follow swiftly, so that we call all start profiting from the numerous health benefits the new law will bring, and to prevent further harm to health.”  

The Standing Committee of European Doctors – Dr Christiaan Keijzer, President: 

“All national medical associations across Europe agree we need better air quality, and public authorities and national governments need to act. Hundreds of thousands premature deaths in Europe are attributable to air pollution every year. We welcome the forthcoming finalisation of the EU air quality standards and look forward to working together for its most health protective implementation.” 

 The Association of European Cancer Leagues – Dr Wendy Yared, Director: 

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing pollutants like PM2.5 that have no safe thresholds. Since 2013, we have known that outdoor air pollution is among the leading environmental causes of lung cancer. This is shocking and must change.  

As cancer leagues are working across Europe to prevent disease and protect public health, we urge EU member states to support and ambitiously implement the new AAQD without delay, to contribute to the successful implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.” 

The European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations – Susanna Palkonen, Director: 

The quality of life and well-being of people living with chronic respiratory diseases and allergies is severely impacted by air pollution. It leads to premature deaths, hospitalisations and absence from work and school.  

The new measures to improve access to air quality information are fundamental. They will help patients -as well as the whole population- to reduce their exposure to harmful pollutants in the air. They will also increase transparency and awareness, as citizens will count on accurate, real-time, and tailored air pollution information, allowing them to understand the importance of enforcement, when the air is safe for them and the risks to lung health. 

The European Lung Foundation – Dimitris Kontopidis, Chair: 

“Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. Our lungs are the first organ affected by air pollution. Studies have shown the impact it can have on our short and long-term lung health, including an increase in doctors’ appointments and emergency hospital visits for people living with asthma and heart conditions on days with higher pollution levels. We urge policymakers across Europe to act now. Together we have to fight to reduce and prevent the massive health impacts of air pollution without delay.” 

The European Public Health Alliance – Dr. Milka Solokovic, Director General: 

“The health of marginalised populations is drastically affected by air pollution and the health of these people is under constant threat from this.  The revised EU clean air standards are a crucial component for tackling health inequalities across Europe, introducing a much-needed accountability mechanism that will greatly benefit those who are most exposed to dirty air and susceptible to its health risks. We urge all sectors and authorities concerned to work together to lessen the health burden, especially for those vulnerable.  

The European Respiratory Society – Dr. Barbara Hoffmann, Chair Advocacy Council: 

Scientifically it is beyond doubt that air pollution harms health across Europe. Now is the time for politicians, especially from national governments, to ensure we have a new legal frame to follow through with improved EU clean air standards to protect people’s health. The good news is that reducing air pollution improves people’s health very quickly.” 

Belgian Independent Health Insurance Funds – Xavier Brenez, CEO: 

Cleaner air will save member states a great deal of money on healthcare from reduced general practitioner and emergency visits. For Belgium reaching the WHO standards for particle pollution would save 43 million euros in healthcare cost annually from saved GP visits alone. The revised EU clean air standards have a significant healthcare savings potential for the social security.  

For reference: 

  • Health groups joint reaction to trilogue deal 
  • Newly formed EU Healthy Air Coalition (EUHAC) joint plenary letter
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