The European Commission said Thursday it is providing national, regional and local actors with practical help to improve air quality in Europe, and stepping up its enforcement against 7 Member States who have breached agreed EU rules on air pollution limits and type approval for cars.
Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella said: “The decision to refer Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU has been taken on behalf of Europeans. We have said that this Commission is one that protects. Our decision follows through on that claim. The Member States referred to the Court today have received sufficient ‘last chances’ over the last decade to improve the situation. It is my conviction that today’s decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale. But legal action alone will not solve the problem. That is why we are outlining the practical help that the Commission can provide to the national authorities’ efforts to promote cleaner air for European cities and towns.”
Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska added: “We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the car sector plays its part. Zero emissions cars are the future. Meanwhile, complying with emissions legislation is a must. Manufacturers that keep disregarding the law have to bear the consequences of their wrongdoing.”
In a Communication entitled ‘A Europe that protects: Clean air for all’, adopted today, the Commission outlines measures available to help Member States fight air pollution. The Commission also underlines the need to step up cooperation with Member States by engaging with relevant authorities in new ‘Clean Air Dialogues’, and by using EU funding to support measures to improve air quality.
In addition, the Commission is today referring France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to respect agreed air quality limit values and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. The Commission is also issuing additional letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom on the grounds that they have disregarded EU vehicle type approval rules.
Measures to fight air pollution
The measures proposed by the Commission rest on three main pillars: air quality standards; national emission reduction targets; and emission standards for key sources of pollution, for example from vehicle and ship emissions to energy and industry.
To address air pollutant emissions from traffic, the Commission will further strengthen its work with national, regional and local authorities on a common integrated approach for urban vehicle access regulations, under the EU Urban Agenda.
In addition, the Commission has led a wide-ranging reform to ensure that air pollutant emissions from vehicles are measured in real driving conditions