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EC "stepping up enforcement" on air pollution


The European Commission on Thursday referred Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the EU's highest Court of Justice, saying they failed to respect air quality limits and didn't take appropriate action in time.

Italy, Hungary and Romania will face the court over breaching particulate matter standards.

Environment commissioner Karmenu Vella said: "The member states referred to the court today have received sufficient "last chances" over the last decade to improve the situation".

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'.

Vella had also given Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia a last chance in January to start complying with European Union standards, which he said they were now doing.

Under the legal system of the EU, the country needs "to have a functioning and effective system of sanctions to deter automakers from violations of existing rules", says the European Commission.

The move follows a summit in January in which the Commission said it would get tough on member states that were still in breach of targets introduced for 2005 and 2010.

"We will shortly build on our £3.5bn plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy setting out a wide range of actions to reduce pollution from all sources", he added.

The UK government has been summoned to Europe's top court for its repeated failure to clamp down on air pollution.

News that the United Kingdom government is to face legal proceedings over its failure to meet air quality limits should act as a "wake-up call" for more action on the issue, politicians and campaigners have claimed. The Commission should have made no exceptions and referred them all.

Air pollution from NO2 causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year in the UK.

The Luxembourg-based court can impose heavy fines. If a Brexit deal is agreed, Britain will be in the transition period and.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, industry commissioner said: "We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the vehicle sector plays its part".

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