(source: European Commission)
15 February 2017
The European Commission sends final warnings to Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO2 pollution is a serious health risk. Most emissions result from road traffic. The European Commission urges these 5 Member States to take action to ensure good air quality and safeguard public health. More than 400 000 citizens die prematurely in the EU each year as a result of poor air quality. Millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases caused by air pollution. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 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. EU legislation on ambient air quality (Directive 2008/50/EC) sets limit values for air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide. In case such limit values are exceeded, Member States are required to adopt and implement air quality plans that set out appropriate measures to bring this situation to an end as soon as possible. Today’s reasoned opinion concerns 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 United Kingdom (16 air quality zones, among them London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow); Italy (12 air quality zones, including Rome, Milan and Turin); Spain (3 air quality zones, one being Madrid and two covering Barcelona). While it is up to the Member State authorities to choose the appropriate measures to address exceeding NO2 limits, much more effort is necessary at local, regional and national levels to meet the obligations of EU rules and safeguard public health. 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.