EC sets Hungary tight deadline for air quality action plan

EU

European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella gave Hungary and eight other European Union member states a tight deadline to submit their finalized plans for complying with EU air quality laws at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, state news agency MTI reported.  

As part of an ongoing infringement procedure, Hungary, together with the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, has until the end of next week to make its submissions or be referred to the European Court. 

All nine member states were earlier issued a "reasoned opinion," the second step in the infringement procedure, over their failure to comply with particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide thresholds.   

In a statement released by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, Zsolt V. Németh, the minister of state for environmental affairs who headed the Hungarian delegation at the meeting, said improving the health of the countryʼs citizens is a priority. Since 2011, steps have been taken to reduce particulate matter levels in the industrial, agricultural and household sectors. These initiatives have cost around HUF 160 billion, said the statement.

Higher standards have led to industrial output playing a smaller role in determining air quality. In the transportation sector, bus refurbishment projects, a road toll system and modifying tax regulations had similar effects, the statement added. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings has been one of the best solutions to reduce PM10 levels, which mostly originate from households illegally burning waste.

The ministry noted that because of its geographic location in a basin where air mixing is hindered, Hungary is a net "pollutant importer" as more air pollutants enter the country than leave it.

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