Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil

EESC opinion: Zero Pollution Action Plan for air, water and soil

Key points

  • The EESC supports the Commission’s plan to address the various types of pollution in a holistic way and to comply with the commitments of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For it to be a truly ambitious plan, the targets must be fully in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and made more ambitious from the outset, that is to say now.
  • The EESC urges the Commission to start collecting data so that it can make legislative proposals soon in areas where they are lacking, such as light and vibration pollution.
  • It therefore welcomes the establishment of the Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform to speed up decontamination and would like to collaborate through the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and other means. 
  • The EESC regrets that, in the zero pollution hierarchy, remedying and offsetting pollution‑related damage is given less consideration. Measures need to be defined for when polluters cannot be identified or cannot offset the damage.
  • ​​​​​​​The EESC suggests that when assessing sources of particulate material (PM), their oxidative potential and ultrafine particles should be included in legislation and PM pollution monitoring.
  • ​​​​​​​To fight marine pollution, all ports should possess an advanced system for the collection and management of waste. In addition, the EU should continuously encourage measures for removing litter from the sea, both to boost decontamination and to secure a secondary fishing activity. ​​​
  • Part of plastic pollution in the sea comes from internal waters. Cleaning up our European rivers requires coordination between the countries concerned.
  • ​​​​​​​The EESC believes that waste management should be harmonised and that waste should be managed and reused where it is produced or where there are appropriate recycling facilities, in order to avoid it adversely affecting third countries.
  • ​​​​​​​Although targets are set at EU level, the EESC recommends setting minimum thresholds for each country, in order to ensure that all Member States make sufficient progress despite going at different rates.
  • ​​​​​​​The EESC urges the Member States and the Commission to speed up the process of transitioning to renewable energy sources, which are so important if companies are to succeed in decarbonising production.
  • The EESC congratulates the Commission on the citizen science strategy for involving and engaging people, raising awareness of pollution, health and wellbeing issues.