European Commission issues ‘final warnings’ to five Member States over air pollution
The European Commission has sent final warnings to the UK as well as Germany, France, Spain, Italy for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide.
The warning from the Commission covers persistent exceeding of NO2 limit values in: Germany (28 air quality zones, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Köln); France (19 air quality zones, among them Paris, Marseille and Lyon); the UK (16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow); Italy (12 air quality zones, including Rome, Milan and Turin); Spain (three air quality zones, one being Madrid and two covering Barcelona).
If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
Persistently high levels of NO2 – which mainly results from road traffic – caused almost 70,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomed the news.
Louise Duprez, EEB senior policy officer on air pollution, said: “What the European Commission is doing today is essential. EU air pollution laws are designed to protect our health. There’s no excuse for countries that fail to implement these laws properly. Children growing up in urban areas deserve better than to be forced to inhale toxic fumes known to cause bronchitis, asthma and other conditions. People all over Europe will welcome the European Commission’s action on this issue.”
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