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Romania's air quality allocations this year - 33 ml lei through Environmental Fund (budget blueprint)

Inquam Photos/ Octav Ganea
guvernul Dancila Iohannis cotroceni

Romania will allocate this year 13 million lei for the Program for the development and optimization of the National Air Quality Monitoring Network, and 20 million lei to reduce the impact of pollution on the atmosphere, water and soil, including air quality monitoring, reads the substantiation note for the budget blueprint of the Environmental Fund and the Environmental Fund Administration (AFM) released for public debate on the website of the Ministry of Environment.

According to the grid for the financing of national environmental protection programs, budget appropriations for the "Reduction of the impact on the atmosphere, water and soil, including air quality monitoring" stand at 20 million lei and commitment appropriations are in a similar amount. Another 10.995 million lei from the state budget are assigned for waste management, while 76.745 million lei are set down as commitment appropriations.

Planned allocations for environmental protection and climate change monitoring, studies and research and the tasks deriving from international agreements, European directives or other national or international regulations, as well as for R & D in the area of climate change stand at 10 million lei (budget appropriations) plus 26.950 million lei in commitment appropriations.

In addition, 200,000 lei from the Environmental Fund are allocated for the National Environmental Improvement Program for green spaces in urban areas, while 13 million lei are pinpointed for the Program for the development and optimization of the National Air Quality Monitoring Network. In 2016, as much as 2.7 million lei have been assigned to replacing the used equipment in the network.

The draft Government Resolution on the income and expense budget of the Environmental Fund and the AFM is up for public debate until February 4, 2018, and comments / proposals / suggestions are expected until this deadline to the Ministry of Environment - AFM.

The European Commission summoned on January 30, 2018 to Brussels the ministers of environment from nine member states, Romania included, which are targeted by the infringement procedure for failure to comply with air quality standards, AFP informs. These countries are deemed to regularly exceed emissions limits set to protect Europeans against particulate matter and azote dioxide, but a total of 23 of the 28 EU member countries exceed air quality norms, the European Commission said. The problem affects more than 130 cities in Europe. Summoned were the environment ministers of France, Germany, UK, Spain, Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

The EC could follow through on threats to take these countries to the European Court of Justice, if they fail to change course.

Romania was represented at the ministerial meeting by a delegation headed by Secretary of State Laurentiu Neculaescu, the Ministry of Environment said after the meeting in a release to Agerpres.

"At the meeting, Romania presented the measures taken and the progress made by the local public authorities and the environmental authorities as regards actions taken to improve the air quality and implicitly the population's health. Under the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR), Romania asked for the Commission's support via the TAIEX P2P (Peer to Peer) tool on air quality. At the end of the talks all participating states were requested to officially submit to the Commission, by Monday, February 5 this year, details on the aspects presented during the meeting," the Romanian ministry said.

On June 14, 2017 the European Commission sent Romania a letter of formal notice in connection with significant gaps in the monitoring of air pollution.

"Air pollution poses a major risk to public health causing more than 25,000 premature deaths per year in Romania alone. This first warning covers the monitoring network of a wide range of zones and agglomerations as well as all major pollutants including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, lead, benzene, carbon monoxide and ozone, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Proper monitoring is a fundamental pre-requisite for verifying compliance with the different EU air quality standards but Romania has failed to establish a monitoring network compliant with those standards and requirements to effectively assess and improve air quality," the EU executive body said.

The letter of formal notice is the first step in the process of an EU infringement procedure.

According to official statistics, over 400,000 people die prematurely each year in the European Union because of poor air quality, which is also the cause of respiratory and cardiovascular disease. European Directive 50/2008 establishes air quality limits that are not allowed to be exceeded anywhere in the EU and requires member states to limit the exposure of their citizens to air pollutants, but despite this obligation, air quality remains a problem in many member countries.

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