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Belgium gets warning on air quality from European Commission
The European Commission has delivered a letter of formal notice to Belgium regarding its failure to meet norms for air quality set out by the EU in 2010. The air quality in Brussels and Antwerp is especially troubling, according to the notice.
“Belgium has persistently failed to meet binding limit values for NO2, a pollutant gas, in the Brussels Region since they came into force in 2010,” the document reads. “The Antwerp agglomeration is also exceeding permitted values, despite a later 2015 deadline for entering into force.”
While the reminder recognises that low-emission zones have been introduced in both cities, it criticises how late they arrived (Antwerp in early 2017, Brussels early this year). It also criticises Belgium’s methods for monitoring air quality, mentioning the locations of Brussels’ measurement efforts specifically.
It was reported late last month that Antwerp is one of the 50 most-polluted areas on the planet, according to satellite data provided by the European Space Agency.
Belgium has two months to respond to the reminder. If it does not respond or if the Commission is not satisfied by the response, it will send what is called a reasoned opinion. That usually buys the member state an additional two months to come up with a response as to what the state is doing to combat the problem. Should that also fail, then the EU can take the country before the Court of Justice.
The letter of formal notice was delivered yesterday and today, perhaps not coincidentally, the Brussels parliament approved a resolution that sets out a number of measures to improve air quality. Measures include cleaner heating technologies, more green space, an increase in pavements and cycle lanes and the purchase of additional electric and hybrid busses.
The resolution was spearheaded by member of parliament Annemie Maes (Groen). “Citizen’s initiatives like Filter Café Filtré show that air quality is an extremely important issue to Brussels residents,” she told Bruzz. “I am pleased that that Brussels’ majority parties seem to finally understand that.”
Photo: Dirk Waem/BELGA