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European Union to take six countries to the court over air quality standards

European Union to take six countries to the court over air quality standards

The European Commission will take France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Britain to the EU Court of Justice for failing to respect air quality limits, the EU executive said on Thursday. The six are Germany, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Italy and Romania.

Most of the concern is about emissions from diesel vehicles, which pump unsafe levels of nitrogen oxide into the air. The government's latest plan in 2017 was condemned as "woefully inadequate" by city leaders and "inexcusable" by doctors.

It also follows the publication last summer of the UK's latest air quality plan, which accelerated intervention on problem areas after the Government lost another round of legal action to ClientEarth.

The European Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said it was the Commission's responsibility to ensure people could breathe clean air. "That is why we are outlining the practical help that the Commission can provide to the national authorities' efforts to promote cleaner air for European cities and towns".

The European Commission is taking the British Government to court for breaching EU air quality rules.

The UK has promised a comprehensive air pollution package shortly.

In the UK, Greenpeace's Rosie Rogers said: "Ministers' apathy on this issue so far has been nothing short of a dereliction of duty".

They are trying to annul the Commission regulation that allows diesel vehicles to exceed emissions limits during road tests, in the wake of the "dieselgate" scandal.

Three "pillars" of air quality improvement have been pegged by the Commission: setting out air quality standards, targets for reducing emissions and emissions standards for pollution sources.

Air pollution from NO2 causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year in the UK. The problem was declared a public health emergency by a cross-party committee of MPs in 2016. But Commissioner Vella emphasised that they are not "off the hook" and the Commission will be monitoring their implementation progress closely.

The European legal case now moves to the ECJ, which will hold a hearing within months. The Commission has therefore made a decision to proceed with legal action.

The Luxembourg-based court can impose heavy fines.

The decision fires the starting gun on a race to bring Britain back in line with air pollution limits before European Union judges in Luxembourg impose hefty fines in the form of a daily penalty or lump sum. If a Brexit deal is agreed, Britain will be in the transition period and.

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