EU ministers discussing 'Get-out-of-jail-free' cards instead of tackling air pollution

EEB Reactions


Brussels, 15 June 2015

The EU’s Council of Environment Ministers met today to discuss 2030 caps on EU-wide air pollution emissions but spent much of it pushing for different kinds of flexibility schemes in case they do not meet them [1]. Some countries, like Poland or Romania, were pushing to make air pollution targets indicative altogether.

Louise Duprez, Senior Policy Officer for Air Pollution at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said: “EU ministers seem to be more interested in the number of ‘Get-out-of-jail-free’ cards they receive than in solving the problem of air pollution.

“Providing flexibilities and only indicative targets would constitute a death-blow to the long-term fight against air pollution. In the meantime, over 400,000 people continue to lose their lives prematurely every single year because of inaction against air pollution.

Ministers also favoured the removal of a cap on methane emissions and said they were in favour of watering down emission limits for ammonia. Around 40% of the EU’s methane emissions and 90% of its ammonia emissions come from agriculture.

Louise Duprez added: “The farmers’ lobby is doing everything it can to remove emission limits which would make farming more sustainable and our air cleaner. What is so special about agriculture that doesn’t apply to sectors like cars or heating installations? Agriculture must deliver emission reductions just like everybody else.”


For further information please contact:

Sébastien Pant, EEB Communications Officer for Air Quality and Resource Efficiency,, or on +32  4 70 13 47 38

Louise Duprez, EEB Senior Policy Officer for Air Pollution,, or on +32  2 289 1307

[1] The National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive sets limits to the amount of pollution every EU country can emit on a yearly basis. Air pollution causes over 400,000 premature deaths and between €300 billion and €900 billion in health-related damage every year.

For more info, please contact:


Senior Policy Officer: Air and Noise

Tel: +32 (0) 2 289 13 07