European Union legal action a 'wake-up call' on air quality

EU to take six countries to the court over air quality standards

This morning, EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella announced that the United Kingdom alongside other member states including France and Germany, are to be referred to the EU Court of Justice for failure to meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide pollution since 2010 (see airqualitynews.com story).

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowskaadded: "We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the vehicle sector plays its part".

He said: "The news that the European Commission will be taking the UK Government to court for unsafe levels of air pollution should be a wake-up call".

"The Member States referred to the Court today have received sufficient "last chances" over the last decade to improve the situation", said Vella.

The Luxembourg-based court can impose heavy fines.

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"We can not wait any longer", Vella said, warning that Brussels may end up waiting several more years before the countries put measures in place.

"But it can not be in our interest to weaken the automobile sector to such an extent that it no longer has the strength to invest in its own future".

The commission has been urging the wayward member countries to establish incentives for the transport, energy and agricultural sector as well as improve urban planning and building design.

In contrast, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain delivered sufficient new measures after being given a final warning in January.

But he warned the commission was keeping the three under review.

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The UK, France and Germany are being referred to the Court of Justice for "failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible".

Germany, Britain and France were targeted for failing to meet limits on NO2 while Italy, Hungary and Romania exceeded limits on particulate matter.

Environmentalists say toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year.

Throughout the European Union, fine particulates - small particles of pollution - were responsible for three out of four premature pollution deaths (399,000 out of 487,600) in 2014, according to European Union figures.

A summit was held in January to offer the countries a chance to find solutions to their air quality problems, but none offered "credible, effective and timely" solutions.

Indore, the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh
Puri said that the names of the worst performing cities would be announced on the day the awards would be presented. Hardeep Singh Puri took to micro-blogging site Twitter and congratulated the cities for their performance.

"European air quality laws are being broken on a continental scale", Tolotto said.

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