December 1, 2014 / 3:55 PM / 5 years ago

Eleven EU nations call for cleaner air, less waste

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ministers from 11 EU member states, including France and Germany, have written to the European Commission calling on it to press ahead with a tougher air quality law and new rules on cutting waste, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

As it seeks to cut down on red tape and counter Euroscepticism, the Commission is reconsidering some of the policy put forward by previous EU bosses, a draft work plan for 2015 has shown.

The new EU executive, in office since Nov. 1, has said no decision has yet been taken but environment campaigners are concerned about the future of proposals on clean air and resource efficiency.

Environment ministers from Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden wrote in the letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his team that the draft laws had benefits beyond the environment.

They called on the new Commission to analyze very carefully the opportunities it would generate for creating jobs and economic growth through innovation and improved competitiveness across the 28-member bloc.

Some members of the European Parliament are also calling on the Commission to go ahead with the waste and air law.

“Over 600,000 deaths across the EU are attributed to poor air quality annually,” Fredrick Federley a Swedish politician from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe told Reuters.

“The European Commission has a moral responsibility not to withdraw measures that could improve this appalling situation.”

In a report last month, the European Environment Agency, which provides data to guide policy-makers, said air pollution from industry, chiefly coal-fired power plants, cost society up to 189 billion euros ($236.2 billion) in 2012.

Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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