EU member states ‘continue to struggle with emissions’

Full implementation of EU environmental legislation is expected to save the economy around €55bn every year

The Big Zero report

A total of 18 member states continue to struggle with high levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 15 countries need to further reduce particulate matter emissions.

They were revealed in the European Commission’s second Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), part of its initiative launched in 2016 to improve the enactment of environmental policy and commonly agreed rules in all member states.

Full implementation of EU environmental legislation is expected to save the economy around €55 billion (£47bn) every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment.

The review maps out the situation of environmental policies and helps to find solutions, assisting national decision makers by outlining priorities requiring their attention.

In the UK, the Commission suggests there has been no change in compliance regarding the high number of urban zones with exceedances above the EU air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

For 2015, the European Environment Agency estimated around 9,600 premature deaths were attributable to NO2 concentrations.

However, in 36 of the 37 zones non-compliant with NO2 limit values, the latest data show some improvements.

Across EU member states, it found while the overall policy framework for the circular economy has been strengthened, waste prevention remains an important challenge for all member states.

On waste management, nine countries are on track while five have already reached their recycling goals but 14 are at risk of missing the 2020 municipal recycling target.

Member states are also said to have made “good progress” in implementing EU climate legislation and the 2020 targets are likely to be met. However, the Commission suggests efforts need to be intensified to comply with international commitments under the Paris Agreement and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: “The Juncker Commission is committed to building a Europe that protects. Making sure that the air, water and waste management our citizens enjoy are of best quality and our natural capital is protected is our priority. The Environmental Implementation Review is there to help member states to make that happen by providing them with the information and the tools they need.”

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