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EU policy

The European Environmental Agency sets pollution exposure standards in its EU’s air quality directives (2008/50/EC, 2004/107/EC). These standards should not be exceeded in a given period of time. If they are nevertheless exceeded, then European governments have to find ways to act and reduce the pollutants. What is very surprising is that the EU target values are much lower than the World Health Organization guidelines. What is going on?

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In my last post I discussed about the policy-academia gap. One additional issue is that the entry costs into the policy debate are extremely high for researchers and experts. Without exhaustive ground work, and without a continuous exposure to policy makers and the general public, most researchers do not have the option to get direct access to either politicians or to provide even official statements in wide-read newspapers about policies.

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Policies should never be implemented without a clear idea as to what they are supposed to achieve. This clear idea tends to be an underlying model of the world which suggests that this policy intervention will lead to a desired outcome. That requires deep analyses, fundamental research, and an objective look at the problem. Without doubt, that’s the job of academia.

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pollutionThe recent 2016 EU Air Quality Report nicely shows  that air quality in Europe has been improving since 2000 across nearly all indicators. Whenever I can present a graph like the one on the right, I am happy. It makes me smile. I feel things are improving and my kids have a chance at a better future. With all the recent terrible events out there, the rise of right-wing attitudes and the many wars that are still being fought, these are finally good news.

BUT, like oh so many times, there is a catch. In fact, there are two catches.

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Many questions have been asked about the reasons behind #Brexit, about why Trump made it into oval office, the recent surge in right-wing political power in Europe, and I think the answers tend to be wrong. I think the answer to why these decisions were taken is really simple: Because their right-wing politicians provide the most convenient answer. And that is dangerous. Let me elaborate.

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There is a new EU public consultation on the development of a comprehensive, integrated Research, Innovation, and Competitiveness Strategy for the Energy Union, with policy fields research and innovation, Energy, Climate change, Transport, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Find out why it is required and why they need your answer and where to submit your opinions by reading on.

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