Europe has made considerable progress over recent decades in cleaning the air that we breathe, but air pollution remains a serious problem and continues to damage our health and the environment.
More action is needed. And that is why, in September 2005, the Commission proposed a new European strategy on air pollution that will bring further significant improvements in air quality across Europe. It sets out a roadmap for action up until 2020 while also streamlining our air pollution legislation to make it easier to implement. The strategy will substantially cut the number of premature deaths each year from diseases linked to air pollution and reduce the area of forests and other ecosystems damaged by airborne pollutants. It is estimated that the value of the health benefits alone will be at least five times higher than the costs of implementing the strategy.
As part of the strategy we proposed new limits for fine dust in the air we breathe. In addition, stricter limits have been adopted for the emissions of soot particles from cars and vans, which can penetrate deep into the lungs. Further legislative proposals will follow.