The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has today published an Audit Brief on EU action to reduce air pollution. Audit Briefs are a new type of publication from the EU auditors. They provide background information based on preparatory work undertaken before the start of an ongoing audit task and follow the announcement of the audit. They are designed to be a source of information for those interested in the policy and/or programmes being audited.
The Audit Brief is based on work done for an audit of the effectiveness of EU action to tackle air pollution, which is currently underway. Recent studies have found that poor air quality is the main environmental cause of premature death among EU citizens. Fine particulate matter was considered to be responsible for an estimated 436,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2013, nitrogen dioxide for 68,000 and ground-level ozone for a further 16,000.
The EU Ambient Air Quality Directive lays down common measurement techniques; criteria for assessing ambient air quality and binding limit values for the atmospheric concentration of the main air pollutants. The EU also co-finances a number of measures to improve air quality, mostly through the European Structural and Investment funds, EU research programmes and the LIFE programme.
Led by ECA Member Janusz Wojciechowski, the audit is considering whether EU policy has been effective in reducing the health risks from air pollution. The auditors have set the audit scope and approach, and identified the areas of risk to sound financial management. To test this, they are conducting detailed examinations of urban areas most affected by air pollution in six Member States: Brussels (Belgium), Sofia (Bulgaria), Ostrava (Czech Republic), Stuttgart (Germany), Milan (Italy), and Krakow (Poland).
Publication of the report is planned for mid-2018.