BRUSSELS – The European Commission announced Thursday that it would not be taking Spain to court over air quality because the country had managed to implement appropriate measures in a bid to tackle the problem.
The Commission said it was, however, referring six member states to court as part of its efforts to improve air quality in Europe: France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom.
“The Member States referred to Court today have received sufficient ‘last chances’ over the last decade to improve the situation,” said European Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella.
“It is my conviction that today’s decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale,” he said, though acknowledging that legal action alone would not solve the issue.
The Commission said in a statement it was taking the countries concerned to court because they had failed “to respect agreed air quality limit values” and not taken “appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible.”
Spain was one of three member states, alongside the Czech Republic and Slovakia, that had managed to address the problem, according to the Commission.
Measures already adopted, or which were in the pipeline, “appear to be able to appropriately tackle the identified gaps, if correctly implemented,” the statement said.
Air pollution causes 400,000 premature deaths across the EU every year due to related illnesses, according to Brussels’ calculations.