Romanians lose an average of 8 months of their life due to pollution. This is what the European Parliament recommends.
Romanians are more affected by pollution than other European citizens – a recent study shows that a Romanian loses about 8 months of life due to pollution, compared to 5-7 months on average in other EU Member States.
In the context of the pandemic, almost three quarters of European citizens living in urban areas are more prone to adverse health effects from pollution. Naturally, Covid-19 restrictions have considerably increased the use of personal cars rather than the public transport.
Road transport is a major cause of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas. Polluted air is one of the main threats to public health. In the EU, around 400,000 deaths are caused annually by pollution-related illnesses. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with pre-existing health problems are most at risk and also most vulnerable to infection with the new coronavirus.
Report on urban challenges in the post-Covid19 era
USR MEP Vlad Gheorghe proposed a series of measures at European level to effectively combat the phenomenon in urban areas. He is the Rapporteur on behalf of the Renew Europe parliamentary group for the Committee on Transport and Tourism’s Report on urban challenges in the post-Covid19 era. MEP Gheorghe stressed the importance of sustainable urban mobility plans to increase the resilience of European cities to crisis situations.
“The costs of gridlocked urban traffic amount to €270 billion per year. We have asked the Commission to advise and fund local governments to adapt infrastructure and improve public and private transport.”
Specific measures in the document include the introduction of digital ticketing and integrated ticketing. Additionally, it calls for the digitisation of public transport operations (touchless access to stations, vehicles) and real-time flow sharing.
The MEP recalls that for the 2014-2020 period, the EU provided around €16.5 billion for “clean” urban transport (metro and tram). In addition, bike lanes and intelligent transport systems were also financed. He is, therefore, calling for funded projects to always be based on multi-annual urban mobility strategies. Lastly, he is demanding municipalities to be obliged to collect and report comprehensive mobility data.
“This is also the proposal of the European Court of Auditors, which in 2020 found in an audit that cities in the EU are not fundamentally changing their approaches and there is no clear trend towards sustainable transport in urban areas”, points out Vlad Gheorghe.
The Romanian MEP also called for provisions related to tourism in cities in the EU’s forthcoming Urban Mobility Package. The reason is that tourism suffered huge losses in the wake of the pandemic.
The opinion passed within the Transport and Tourism Committee with 42 votes in favour and 1 abstention. Consequently, Vlad Gheorghe’s proposals will be included in the final report issued by the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development.