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EU urges Kosovo parl not to permit imports of cars older than 10 years

EU urges Kosovo parl not to permit imports of cars older than 10 years Vegim Zhitija/CC BY-SA 2.0

PRISTINA (Kosovo), November 2 (SeeNews) – The EU called on the members of Kosovo's parliament on Friday not to vote on a proposed increase of the maximum age of newly imported second-hand cars to 15 years, in order to protect the environment and safeguard public health.

“I urge the Assembly to keep unchanged the cars age limit up to 10 years,” the head of EU office in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, said in a Twitter post.

The increase of the maximum age of imported cars will have a serious impact on public health, Apostolova said, adding that Kosovo was ranked  among the most polluted countries in Europe in the last European Environment Agency report on air quality.

The proposal to open the way for imports of cars older than 10 years in Kosovo goes against EU directives on CO2 vehicle emissions, she added.

According to data published by Kosovo’s statistical office, there were 334,440 register motor and non-motor vehicles in Kosovo in 2017, up 4.64% over the previous year. Of the total, 18,559 were motor vehicles under 3.5 tonnes.

In February, Kosovo citizens held a protest rally against air pollution in Pristina as local authorities decided to restrict the use of cars to fight heavy smog engulfing the city. Hundreds of people demanded a long-term solution to the problem, blaming the government for not taking adequate measures to tackle it.

The average daily levels of air pollution highly exceed the allowed standards, becoming hazardous for the health of people, according to the air quality monitor installed by the U.S. embassy in Pristina.

“Pollution is a serious issue in Kosovo, I hope to see more government action to address it,” U.S. Ambassador to Pristina Greg Delawie said in a Twitter post in February.

Two old, inefficient and highly polluting lignite-fired power plants, Kosovo A and B located on the outskirts of Kosovo's capital are considered to be the main source of heavy air pollution, according to local media reports.

Kosovo's government signed an agreement with London-listed power generation company ContourGlobal in December 2017 to start the construction of 500 MW Kosova e Re coal-fired power plant, which will replace the 40-year-old Kosovo A plant and is seen as the only solution to the country's chronic air pollution and unreliable power supplies. The project's estimated cost is 1.3 billion euro ($1.48 billion).

($ = 0.87878 euro)