EU Suing France, UK and Germany over Air Pollution Levels

18 May, 2018, 06:35 | Author: Kim Reid
  • EU to take six countries to the court over air quality standards

Hungary, Italy and Romania are being referred to the court due to excessive particulate matter levels.

"We have waited a long time and we can not possibly wait any longer", said Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment. "It is my conviction that today's decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale", said EC Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

For the EU Commission, they had sent similar warnings to Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic but these countries had managed to hand in a set of actions believed to be sufficient to curb air pollution and emissions. Air pollution requires urgent action and it's been clear for too many years that authorities all across Europe are failing to protect their people from illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

However, whilst the government has been keen to highlight that air quality is improving in some parts of the country, the announcement from Brussels has prompted criticism from several corners.

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ClientEarth, the environmental group which has taken three successful court cases against the United Kingdom government over air pollution regulations, was quick to applaud the EC announcement.

Germany's automakers, in particular the Volkswagen Group, which sold millions of emissions-rigged diesels, have been dragging their feet over retrofitting the affected cars to make them cleaner.

Mr Vella said the commission would also provide the countries with "practical help" on how to promote cleaner air in their cities.

The UK has promised a comprehensive air pollution package shortly.

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The government's own research shows clean air zones (CAZs), in which cars are deterred from city centres by pollution charges, are by far the most effective solution to air pollution.

Earlier this year, five German cities took part in a pilot project to trial free public transport in effort to meet European Union air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The Commission has therefore made a decision to proceed with legal action. The Commission should have made no exceptions and referred them all. If it does not, the court can then impose large fines.

The Frenchman said there could be no reduction in environmental standards after Brexit as Britain could otherwise seek a "competitive advantage" over its neighbours. The nations have two months to reply to prevent action from being escalated.

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