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No 39/2015
18 June 2015
Freeing Europe safely from Asbestos
More than 300,000 asbestos deaths expected in Europe by 2030
On 24 June 2015, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) will be hosting a joint conference "Freeing Europe safely from asbestos" to discuss the continuing widespread risk of asbestos exposure to Europe's citizens and the steps that need to be taken to reduce it over the coming years. This event will be a follow-up action to the EESC's Opinion on Asbestos which was published in February.

Despite a Europe-wide ban on asbestos since 2005, according to the WHO, between 20 000 and 30 000 cases of asbestos-related diseases are recorded every year in the EU alone, and more than 300 000 citizens are expected to die from mesothelioma by 2030 in the EU. This places asbestos related deaths at a comparable level to those expected to result from road accidents during the same period ( ).

Asbestos is still found in many places, such as ships, trains, machinery, tunnels and in pipes in public and private water distribution networks. Asbestos was used extensively in buildings erected between 1961 and 1990, with millions of tonnes still present in buildings, not only putting building and maintenance workers at risk but potentially anybody present or occupying the property. Over 80% of schools in one country alone, the United Kingdom, still contain asbestos and even its national parliament is not immune. Also alarming is the emerging risk for everyday consumers associated with imported consumer and other products containing asbestos which are slipping through EU Market Surveillance controls.

In order to protect public health, the EESC Opinion urges the European Commission to develop action plans for asbestos removal and management which could cost between 10-15 billion Euros per country for some of the larger EU countries, based on two countries' estimates, and to establish a clear link between safe removal of asbestos and energy efficiency renovation of buildings.

The event will be an opportunity to:

• set out concrete steps and a strategy for safe removal

• demand recognition and compensation of victims

• determine appropriate actions to protect the public health of Europe's population

A copy of the programme is available here.
For journalists wishing to attend the hearing or to request further information, please contact: 

Alun Jones
Tel.: +32 2 546 8641

The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.

European Economic and Social Committee
Rue Belliard 99, 1040 Bruxelles

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