Commissioner Vella opened the floor and encouraged participants to engage in the debate, since ‘Our job is not only to legislate - but rather to ensure that the EU’s 500 million citizens will benefit.’ Commissioner Andriukaitis followed up and said that many synergies exist between the two Commissioners’ portfolios and that good health is a shared priority. It involves our economy, social and external standards as well as our lifestyle and the risk factors we are exposed to.
From there the debate moved on to the topic of the health risks related to pollution which prompted a question: ‘Why are the ‘polluters’ not held responsible for the damage they cause?’
Another participant followed up: ‘What is the price of a human life that has been ruined by pollution?’ Commissioner Vella replied that the EU has legislation addressing harmful pollution.
But in the end, the responsibility also lies with each Member State to implement and oversee that rules are followed correctly.
Prompted by a question concerning noise from railways, Karmenu Vella explained that noise is a harmful source of pollution and poses a health risk. When the debate touched the issue of food waste, Commissioner Andriukaitis shared with the audience the statistics of people who only get to eat twice per week, and announced that the Commission will be ready in March with a proposal to reduce food waste.
A participant stated that Klaipeda used to have one of the biggest fishing fleets in the Baltics, but now there is a shortage of fish. He claimed that this is mainly due to the exaggerated use of pesticides in the agricultural industry and wanted to know what the EU is doing about it.
Commissioner Andriukaitis agreed that pesticides ending up in our rivers, the sea or oceans have a negative impact on our water quality and thus the fish population.
He argued that the European Union is the best forum to discuss and agree on sustainable crossborder solutions amongst the countries with a Baltic sea coastline.