EU issues final warning to 5 countries over air pollution breaches

EU issues final warning to 5 countries over air pollution breaches

The European Commission sent final warnings on Wednesday to Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Britain for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

Germany leads the list of member states found to have exceeded `NO2 limits, with 28 air quality zones, including major cities such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, in breach of set limits.

In France, 19 air quality zones including Paris, Marseille and Lyon had exceeded NO2 limits.

NO2 pollution results from road traffic and is considered a serious health risk according to the commission.

The commission says that “persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide 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.”

Following a final warning, EU member states are required to adopt measures that lower emissions. The commission said that in similar cases, reducing the volume of traffic, changing fuels and switching to electric cars, had proven to be an effective way of reducing emissions.

The warnings were sent as part of the so-called infringement procedure, in which the commission investigates possible infringements of EU law by member states.

Should the five states fail to act within two months, the commission may decide to take the matter to court.

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