According to news reports out today, the European Commission will further postpone taking legal action against nine EU countries for their prolonged failure to address illegal pollution.
Reacting to the news, ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “The Commission’s decision to further delay the infringements is hugely disappointing. Action is overdue by more than eight years and the Commission is letting down millions of people across Europe who are breathing illegal and harmful levels of air pollution. There is nothing to stop the Commission going ahead with legal action. If the Commission really does care about the health of Europeans, it’s high time to follow up statements with real action.”
A Commission spokesperson clarified that the decision on infringements has been deferred after the upcoming proposal for the EU’s next seven-year budget in May.
The delays come after EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella had already announced that a number of the nine countries would be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union during the next infringement cycle at the end of April.
The European Commission had already issued final warnings (so-called “reasoned opinions”) to all the nine Member States more than one year ago, but in January environment ministers were given an eleventh hour chance to present their plans to address illegal pollution to the EU Commissioner, before the start of court actions.
Further action against the nine EU countries is therefore delayed by at least one month, but the Commission did not clarify if a final decision will be actually made in May.
The nine countries facing air quality infringements are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.