EU strikes deal to strengthen air quality standards

Air quality measuring devices on the top of an automatic monitoring station are seen in Prague

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament and EU member states reached a deal late on Tuesday to strengthen air quality standards across the 27-nation European Union, they said in a statement.

The new rules set out air quality standards for 2030 in the form of pollutant limits and target values that are closer to the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The European Environment Agency said in November that pollution caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which affects people with heart diseases in particular, led to 253,000 deaths in the EU in 2021. Pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), most harmful to people with diabetes, resulted in 52,000 deaths and short-term ozone (O3) exposure led to 22,000 deaths.

Under the Tuesday's provisional agreement, annual limits for PM2.5 and NO2 would be reduced from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³ respectively.

The agreement provides member states with the possibility to request, by Jan. 31, 2029, and for specific reasons and under strict conditions, a postponement of the deadline for attaining the air quality limit values.

The deal has to be formally confirmed by the European Parliament and Council and then it will go through the adoption procedure.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Nick Macfie)