United Kingdom referred to Europe's top court over air pollution

United Kingdom referred to Europe's top court over air pollution

The European Commission on Thursday chose to take Germany and five other European Union member states to court for breaching EU air pollution levels.

EU law obliges member states, in accordance with the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive, to maintain air quality standards and limit values for PM10, which may not exceed an annual average of 40 µg/m3 and 50 µg/m3 per day. 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.

"The commission had to conclude that... the additional measures proposed are not sufficient to comply with air quality standards as soon as possible", Vella said.

The European Commission's analysis of clean air measures adopted at national level are at a "very advanced stage", said Daniel Calleja Y Crespo, who recently came to Slovakia for the Clean Air Dialogue.

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.

They are trying to annul the Commission regulation that allows diesel vehicles to exceed emissions limits during road tests, in the wake of the "dieselgate" scandal. Bulgaria and Poland, which have also failed to take action, have already been taken before the top court.

The European court of justice (ECJ) has the power to impose multimillion euro fines if the countries do not address the problem swiftly.

The European Commission also issued a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for disregarding EU measures to deter auto manufacturers from trying to cheat emissions tests, introduced in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

In a separate action, the commission proposed the first-ever Carbon dioxide emissions standards for new trucks travelling within the EU.

"We can not wait any longer", he added.

Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality manager at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) said the "long-overdue announcement" was a clear message to European Union governments.

Greenpeace Germany traffic expert Tobias Austrup, in response to Merkel's statement, warned that "the German government is giving the auto companies ineffective measures" to fight air pollution.

Air pollution from NO2 causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year in the UK.

The EU estimates that air pollution costs the bloc 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) a year in health costs, but says this could be reduced if member states comply with agreed emissions limits.

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