The Commission announced that it would be taking action against 17 Member States that have a persistently poor air quality record. There are particular concerns about levels of PM10 airborne particles, which are airborne pollutant emissions from industry, traffic and domestic heating, in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and Slovenia. Also, the World Health Organisation published a review that found long-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) can trigger atherosclerosis, adverse birth outcomes and childhood respiratory diseases. A review of the EU’s air policy is currently underway, and the Commission aims to use the latest findings as a basis for new guidance.
On Monday a crucial stage was reached in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Reforms that have been passed focus on sustainable measures through soil and landscape preservation and natural resources, unlike the scheme it is replacing which was heavily geared towards production.
A German court ruled that citizens from Romania and Bulgaria are entitled to German healthcare and benefits, despite welfare restrictions sought by the German government. The claimant had moved to live with an individual holding German residency, who ended the relationship when she became pregnant. She was refused a working permit, and subsequently, pregnancy care. It was held that as she fulfilled all requirements for a claim her status as a Bulgarian citizen did not exclude her from social benefits.
As the newest members of the EU, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are subject to labour market restrictions in several Member States, including the UK. These restrictions are due to expire at the end of 2013, and the British government has been bandying about ideas on dissuading large-scale immigration. EU Observer reported that this could include preventing migrants without a job from using NHS services. Other reports are of plans for a negative advertising campaign about the UK to “correct the impression that the streets are paved with gold”.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol released a report on EU supply and demand of illegal drugs. The report shows the EU drug network as cohesive, and describes it as the principal activity of most organised crime groups. “Legal highs” have their own section – 73 new psychoactive substances that are not controlled under international law were discovered in 2012.