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Dutch local and regional associations lobby EU to tackle air pollution at source

The Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) and the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (IPO), in collaboration with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), successfully lobbied the EU.institutions to put forward concrete measures in the ambient air quality directive in order to tackle air pollution at its source.
VNG and IPO began by sending a position paper to the European Parliament, as they quickly realised that the draft directive was too technical and not practical enough for municipalities and regions, which would be first in line when it came to the implementation of the legislation.
The two associations then brought the issue to the attention of CEMR's working group on environment, as most of its members were yet unaware of the implications of the proposed directive. Thus, CEMR provided its member associations, including VNG and IPO, with a platform for discussion so as to elaborate a common position to notably lobby for the inclusion of supporting measures to tackle the sources of air pollution, including vehicles, industry and fuel.
The lobbying activities led by VNG, IPO and CEMR were successful as the directive was adapted, rendering it more practicable for implementation by local and regional authorities. The ambient air quality directive entered into force in June 2008.
Dutch local and regional authorities and CEMR
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) has two member associations in the Netherlands: the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) and the Association of Provinces of the Netherlands (IPO).
Founded in 1912, VNG is currently presided over by Annemarie Jorritsma, mayor of Almere and CEMR co-president. It represents the interests of all Dutch municipalities vis-à-vis the national parliament and government, civil society and the European Union. The association also provides its members with a number of services and advice on how to deal with current developments as well as a platform for the exchange of experiences and for mutual learning.
IPO is presided over by Johan Remkes, queen's commissioner in the province of North Holland, and represents all twelve Dutch provinces. It works at promoting and stimulating innovation and representing the joint interests of its members. Much like its local counterpart, IPO maintains relations with the national parliament, ministries, the EU and social organisations, and provides its members with a platform for exchange. IPO also aims at defining common positions and initiatives with the provinces, all the while informing and guiding them in the preparation of regional policies.
VNG and IPO often coordinate their activities so as to influence legislation of interest to local and regional authorities during the decision-making process at national level.
Local and regional government in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a unitary state composed of 418 municipalities (gemeenten) and 12 provinces (provincies).