The EU needs to protect citizens from pollution, not loosen air quality rules as conservatives suggest, the Party of Europeans Socialists said today.
In response to diesel car bans in certain areas of some German cities, CSU and CDU politicians have criticised Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and the EU’s air quality rules. They are calling for nitrogen oxide limits to be revised so they are less strict, but their argument is based on the opinion of a small group of lung doctors who doubt the health-harming effects of nitrogen oxide.
The PES defends Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella against unfounded and personal attacks.
Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES, said: “The quality of the air we breathe should really not be something we have to fight for. Pollution is especially harmful to the most vulnerable people: the elderly, the sick, children and pregnant women. This is exactly why we have limits on nitrogen oxide and fine particles.
“The debate that some conservatives want to start is based on an opinion from a handful of doctors that the vast majority of health researchers and professional disagree with. It’s good to see that Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella is not intending to lower the limits, but rather to strengthen them.
“We want to protect people’s health. Our manifest for the European elections will focus on how we can combine the protection of our planet with the health and economic interests of all our citizens. It’s the job of public authorities – national and European – to ensure a just transition to a more sustainable and cleaner society.”
Ebola: EU announces new funds to strengthen preparedness in Burundi
The Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to spread in the east of the country with a high risk of a spill-over into the neighbouring countries. The European Union is stepping up its assistance to Burundi with €465,000 to further strengthen Ebola preparedness measures by authorities and aid organisations in the country.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, who is also the EU’s Ebola Coordinator, said: ”To effectively fight the Ebola virus we do not only have to address the affected cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo but also increase our efforts to prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring countries like Burundi. The European Union is therefore supporting ongoing Ebola preparedness measures in the country, including infection prevention and control. Everything possible must be done to avoid a further spread of the deadly virus.”
The new EU funding will be allocated through the World Health Organisation. It will strengthen the coordination, surveillance and response capacities to Ebola in high-risk districts in Burundi, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. This new funding complements the existing financial support to the ongoing EU efforts in Ebola surveillance and awareness-raising via NGOs and UN.
Since 2018, the EU has provided €47 million to humanitarian partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo involved in the Ebola response in the affected areas as well as in high-risk areas. In parallel, the EU has also been supporting Ebola prevention and preparedness measures in the neighbouring countries most at risk – Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi – with over €4 million in humanitarian aid to ensure rapid detection and treatment in case of spill-over.
Supporting Ebola preparedness in neighbouring countries is crucial in this region with the high mobility and considerable cross-border trade. Uganda has recently witnessed three cases of a family returning from an Ebola-affected area in the Democratic Republic of Congo. No Ebola cases have been detected in Burundi, but the threat has become increasingly real with two newly confirmed cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s province of South Kivu, which shares a border with Burundi.
RescEU assets mobilised to help Greece fight devastating forest fires
Following a request for assistance from Greece on 13 August 2019, rescEU assets have been mobilised to tackle forest fires ravaging several areas of Greece. As an immediate response, the European Union has already helped to mobilise 3 forest fighting planes from rescEU reserve from Italy and Spainto be dispatched swiftly to the affected regions.
rescEU is the EU’s strengthened EU Civil Protection Mechanism, whose reserve includes firefighting planes and helicopters. Through rescEU, the EU reinforces its collective ability to respond to disasters that affect European countries. This is the first ever deployment of the rescEU assets.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The EU stands in full solidarity with Greece at this difficult time. The planes are already in action, fighting the fires. This immediate response proves the added value of rescEU which makes our response more robust, quick and efficient. Moreover, this is a real example of the common European values on which rescEU is based: solidarity and protection of lives of our European citizens. I am thankful to Italy and Spain for their offers of assistance. We stand ready to provide further assistance.”
Commissioner Stylianides is in constant communication with the Greek authorities. Today, the Commissioner is in Athens where he met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and visited the Crisis Centre of the Greek Civil Protection to be briefed along with the Minister for the Protection of Citizens Michalis Chrysochoidis and oversee the operation of the rescEU assets.
The European satellite mapping system Copernicus is helping to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism strengthens cooperation between Member States/Participating States in the field of civil protection, with a view to improving prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond.
When the scale of an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country, it can request assistance via the Mechanism. Once activated, the Mechanism coordinates assistance made available by its Member States/Participating States through spontaneous offers. In addition, the EU has created the European Civil Protection Pool to have a critical number of readily available civil protection capacities allowing for a stronger and coherent collective response. Should the emergency require additional, life-saving assistance, the new rescEU reserve can be used as a matter of last resort.
To date, all EU Member States participate in the Mechanism, as well as Iceland, Norway, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Turkey. Since its inception in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has responded to more than 300 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.
EU mobilises €9 million to tackle the food crisis in Haiti
The European Union has released €9 million in humanitarian aid in response to the deteriorating food and nutrition situation in Haiti. The humanitarian aid will cover the basic food and nutritional needs of more than 130,000 people living in the worst affected areas.
‘For the EU, the humanitarian situation in Haiti is not a forgotten crisis We are committed to providing vital support to the people hit by the food and nutrition crisis in the country. This assistance comes on top of the €12 million allocated in 2018 to address the urgent food and nutrition needs of Haitians,’ said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
The funds provided will benefit families living in the areas worst affected by the crisis and children suffering from acute malnutrition. Life-saving nutritional support will also be provided to over 5,000 children under the age of 5 who are suffering from acute malnutrition. In parallel, the EU will back measures to strengthen the analysis of the food situation and to improve the quality of the humanitarian response.
The European Commission’s humanitarian assistance pays special attention to victims of forgotten crises, i.e. severe, protracted humanitarian crises where the people affected do not receive sufficient international aid, as is the case in Haiti. Haiti is the main beneficiary of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean, having received €404 million in support since 1994.
Due to its vulnerability to natural hazards and its high levels of poverty, Haiti has limited capacity to cope with recurring emergencies such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and prolonged droughts.
In recent months, the humanitarian situation in Haiti has deteriorated dramatically and the country is facing serious food shortages. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people in crisis situations or facing food emergencies doubled to 2.6 million, i.e. 25 % of the population. Furthermore, the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under the age of five remains high, and above World Health Organization (WHO) emergency levels in several locations, including the Nord-Ouest department.
€3 million were earmarked at the end of July 2019 for disaster risk reduction.
In Haiti, particular emphasis is being placed on establishing an effective link between relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD) to facilitate the transition between emergency relief work and structural development assistance in the country. More specifically, in terms of development cooperation, the amount of EU funding allocated to Haiti is the highest in the region, standing at €420 million for the period 2014-2020. These funds are intended to support development and the fight against poverty in the country by focusing on four key sectors: strengthening and modernising public administration, education, urban development and infrastructure, and food and nutrition security.
From West To East A Somber Week
It has been a somber week. An orphaned dugong nurtured and returned to the sea has died from eating plastic. ...
Kashmir: A Victim of the Influence of Major Powers
India-Pakistan relations are constantly tense and India-Pakistan history is full of struggles and rivalries. The problems between the two countries...
Empathy, Survival and Human Oneness: Informed Reflections on Trump’s Atavistic Worldview
“Each of us is both the subject and the protagonist of his own nontransferable life.” José Ortega y Gasset, Man...
The Invisible Water Crisis
The world faces an invisible crisis of water quality. Its impacts are wider, deeper, and more uncertain than previously thought...
Israeli contrasts: Likud’s favoured soccer teams veers left as Bibi turns further right
The contrast could not be starker. As Israel plays a dangerous game of US politics by restricting or banning visits...
Will Putin and Macron Open a New Political Season?
On August 19, President of France Emmanuel Macron hosted President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin at Fort de Brégançon...
India’s veiled nuclear threat
India’s defence minister’s statement reflects a paradigm shift in India’s nuclear policy. It appears India has already perfected its delivery...
Southeast Asia2 days ago
In Myanmar, Better Oversight of Forests a Vital Step in Transition to Rule of Law
Africa3 days ago
Addressing Economic Challenges in Africa Through Deep Investments
Travel & Leisure2 days ago
Think outside: 5 ways to disconnect and enjoy the outdoors
South Asia3 days ago
Abrogation of Article 370 and Indian Plan for Plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir
Defense2 days ago
In a Dark Time: The Expected Consequences of an India-Pakistan Nuclear War
Americas3 days ago
Presidential elections – 2020, or does Trump have “federal reserve”?
Economy3 days ago
Internship tips from an intern who became an owner and CEO
South Asia2 days ago
China- Pakistan: Centaur of Friendship