The priority of the Juncker Commission is “protecting citizens.” This means protecting their quality of life. That includes protection from air pollution.

That is why on Tuesday 30 January, I’ll be meeting with Environment ministers from 9 EU Member States on the quality of our air. 

This meeting on air quality has been called for three reasons.

To protect citizens. More than 400 000 European lives are ended prematurely every year, simply from breathing polluted air. We need action now.

To clarify that if there is no improvement of air quality there are legal consequences.

And to remind Member States that this step is at the end of a long - some would say too long - period of offers to help, advice given, and warnings made.

Our first responsibility as the European Commission is to the millions of Europeans - young and old, sick and healthy – who suffer from poor air quality.

Parents of a child suffering from bronchitis. A daughter of someone with pulmonary disease. Each want to see improvements in air quality as soon as possible.

For them, action plans with a 10-12 year timescale or ineffective plans are useless

I know that the Environment Ministers share my concerns, my sense of urgency and my frustrations. They are my allies, and yours.

But we need Governments to take a horizontal approach. An approach that gets Ministries agencies and, yes, polluters, working together for speedy solutions.

It is my responsibility on behalf of Europe’s citizens, on your behalf, to use all the resources I have to hand.

I look forward to letting you know how this meeting goes.

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