European COPD Coalition

All logos Letter Conference illicit trade




13 March 2017 – Under the leadership of the Smoke Free Partnership (SFP), a pan-European tobacco control Foundation, ECC joined 29 other health organisations calling EU politicians speakers at an European Commission conference on illicit trade to withdraw from the conference programme, an event sponsored by British American Tobacco (BAT).

As stated in the official letter (see link below): the conference to be held on 22nd of March is organised with steering and funding by a tobacco company, which has input to the programme and provides speakers to this conference. This is against the guidelines to Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which has been ratified by the EU and all its 28 Member States.

The European Union and its Member States, as Parties to the WHO FCTC, are committed to and legally bound to protect its policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry. One of the major drivers behind the development of the FCTC was the understanding that the tobacco industry is not just another industry and that normal rules of engagement cannot apply. In a press release, SFP said:

“The tobacco industry has a well-documented history of hiding behind third parties and of sponsoring reputation-building opportunities. This practice is not new in Brussels, where some tobacco companies use trade associations and interest groups, and others use sponsored events, including by online news platforms, to establish links with policy makers. Even so, it is just shameless to hijack the issue of terrorism, a major concern for every single European citizen, to keep selling a product that kills millions.

Johns-Formal-for-webECC learnt today that John Walsh, founder and former CEO of the COPD Foundation (in the US and then global) passed away on 7th of March 2017.

John was an inspirational leader, a passionate advocate for COPD, a compassionate man with a vision and creativity to obtain the means to reach it.

His work with the COPD and Alpha1 Foundations was instrumental to raise more funds for research on the disease, increase access to treatment and put COPD on the political agenda.

“A warm and real gentleman, punchy, determined and  with such charming smile, a great friend too, he will be deeply missed”, said Monica Fletcher, member of ERNA and of ECC.

We are very thankful for his outstanding work for the COPD community.

ECC conveys its warm condolences to his family, friends and the all who loved him. What a brave man he was!
More information and where to send your condolences
Photo: Alpha1 Foundation


(source: European Commission)

Air pollution ParisAir pollution: Commission warns GERMANY, FRANCE, SPAIN, ITALY and the UNITED KINGDOM of continued air pollution breaches

15 February 2017

The European Commission sends final warnings to Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 pollution is a serious health risk. Most emissions result from road traffic. The European Commission urges these 5 Member States to take action to ensure good air quality and safeguard public health. More than 400 000 citizens die prematurely in the EU each year as a result of poor air quality. Millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by air pollution. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused almost 70 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year. EU legislation on ambient air quality (Directive 2008/50/EC) sets limit values for air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide. In case such limit values are exceeded, Member States are required to adopt and implement air quality plans that set out appropriate measures to bring this situation to an end as soon as possible. Today’s reasoned opinion concerns persistent exceeding of NO2 limit values in: Germany (28 air quality zones, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Köln); France (19 air quality zones, among them Paris, Marseille and Lyon); The United Kingdom (16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow); Italy (12 air quality zones, including Rome, Milan and Turin); Spain (3 air quality zones, one being Madrid and two covering Barcelona). While it is up to the Member State authorities to choose the appropriate measures to address exceeding NO2 limits, much more effort is necessary at local, regional and national levels to meet the obligations of EU rules and safeguard public health. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Full press release

Photo credit: creative commons, Clément Costa

4 logosJoint NGO Submission to the public consultation on the Real-Driving Emissions in the EURO 6 regulation on emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles

The European COPD Coalition (ECC), the European Respiratory Society (ERS), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) welcome the European Commission’s proposal on the 3rd Real driving emissions (RDE) package and call on the national experts in the Technical Committee of Motor Vehicles (TCMV) to endorse it in its entirety on 20 December 2016. The proposal is a timely step to address the growing particulate number (PN) emissions from the new generation of petrol vehicles on Europe’s roads which emit many more particles than the prescribed Euro 6 limit in real-world driving conditions.

As a result, these vehicles contribute to what is already a grave public health emergency, as the latest figures by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show that air pollutant emissions contribute to 467,000 premature deaths across the EU each year(1). Moreover, a major report launched by the Royal College of Physicians earlier this year examined the impact of exposure to air pollution across the entire life course and one of its Recommendations for Action was a strengthening of emissions testing for cars (2).

Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in ParisMembers of the European Parliament (MEPs) meeting in plenary session have approved on 23rd of November new EU-wide air pollution rules, after it was adopted in July in the EP committees. The updated National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive sets air pollution limits that are expected to halve the health impact of air pollution by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

According to environmental experts and associations, this is no sufficient: even after full implementation of the directive in 2030, around 250,000 Europeans are still likely to die prematurely because of air pollution every year.

(image credit: AFP)

This is due to:

  • The set targets are not ambitious enough
  • Member States agreed to provide themselves “get-out-of-jail” cards with “flexibilities” that will allow them in case of dry summer or cold winter not to respect the limits. They will also be able to escape responsibility in case emissions from one sector turn out to be greater than expected, as already happened with dieselgate (source: EEB).
  • No caps for methane. The European Parliament and Commission wanted to limit methane as it contributes to ground level ozone which is harmful to human health, the Member States opposed and obtained to exclude methane from this Directive.

It is important to note that in the case of NEC, the European Commission and Parliament demonstrated much higher ambitious and took a stronger stance on air quality than Member States, that succeeded in watering down the original proposals. They have delayed improved health conditions for EU citizens, allowing air pollution to remain too high to effectively decrease respiratory diseases.

We count on national authorities to go beyond the Directive targets and means of action to improve the lives of millions suffering from respiratory diseases and COPD in particular, and to prevent more cases of ill-health.

More information.