European Union takes United Kingdom to court over air pollution

EU news UK ECJ air pollution

The UK, France and Germany will be taken to court over their failure to meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, while Hungary, Italy and Romania failed to meet the standards on the level of particulate matter.

The European Commission has sent to the EU Court proceedings against six member countries in connection with the failure of their measures to ensure clean air.

In January, the nine countries were found to regularly exceed emissions limits set to protect Europeans against particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), both pollutants. "It is my conviction that today's decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale". But she added that the process behind legal action should be "far more transparent" to allow citizens to know why some countries are taken to court and others not.

The UK is facing new legal issues after failing to follow the European Commission's final warning in January about taking action against their high levels of air pollution, The Guardian reported.

The Commission said the measures proposed by the EC rest on the three main pillars of air quality standards, national emission reduction targets, and emission standards for key sources of pollution from vehicle and ship emissions to energy and industry.

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The commission said 400,000 premature deaths a year were linked to polluted air and 130 cities in 23 of the 28 European Union members exceed air quality standards.

James Thornton, of ClientEarth, added: "This is more damning evidence of the mountain the United Kingdom government still has to climb to bring air pollution to within legal limits". The Commission has therefore chose to proceed with legal action.

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. But Commissioner Vella emphasised that they are not "off the hook" and the Commission will be monitoring their implementation progress closely. If it does not, the court can then impose large fines. If a Brexit deal is agreed, Britain will be in the transition period and. The nations have two months to reply to prevent action from being escalated.

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