Air pollution: France in the EU’s justice system

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Newspaper
05/18/2018

The European Commission announced on Thursday, May 17, its decision to send France, along with five other member states, to the European Court of Justice for non-compliance with air quality standards. France is exposed to heavy penalties especially as the health emergency is increasingly felt in large cities.

Polluted Paris. Photo: iStock -Credits: VladOrlov.

Nitrogen dioxide level too high
” French air quality makes Brussels cough “irony The Express . South West reports that ” first warnings had fallen since 2005, the beginning of a very long infringement procedure initiated by the European executive “. The ” European Commission [finally] announced on Thursday [17 May] that it seized the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning six countries including France ” for ” exceeding set air quality limit values ​​”, Explain Release .
Indeed, France has not presented “credible, effective and timely measures to reduce pollution” [ Release ]. Release reports that France, Germany and the UK have ” exceeded the limit values ​​for nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) “, while ” Hungary, Italy and Romania are affected by persistent high concentrations of particulate matter (PM 10 ) “. The world informs that ” the Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic escape punishment ” but nevertheless remain “under surveillance “.
There is therefore urgency to act. According to the conclusions of the European Environment Agency, quoted by Point, ” Fine particle pollution is responsible for nearly 400 000 premature deaths per year, of which 66 000 in Germany, 60 000 in Italy and 35 000 in France Concerning nitrogen dioxide, the number of premature deaths is estimated at 75 000 per year in Europe, of which 14 000 in the United Kingdom, 12 800 in Germany and 9 300 in France “.
Paradoxically, according to France 24 , ” air quality has improved significantly in the EU “with the example of “dramatic decline in emissions of sulfur oxides, known as acid rain (-72% since 2000) For Alberto Gonzalez Ortiz, expert at the European Environment Agency, ” emissions are decreasing in general but not at the same rate for all pollutants So, the ” emissions of very fine particles, if they remain significant, have fallen by a quarter since the beginning of the century “[ France 24 ].
France at the foot of the wall
The gallery reports that the EU executive demands that the accused countries put in place ” additional credible, timely and effective measures “The nine targeted states must” present an action plan “. In France, ” the Minister of the Ecological Transition, Nicolas Hulot, and the Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, say take note of this decision “, reports The Express . The government ” confirms its determination to accelerate air quality measures to protect the health of the French “.
The European Commission has judged insufficient the measures put in place by France, accusing it of being satisfied ” to stack already existing devices At the Ministry of Ecological Transition, ” it is hoped that the future law on mobility will make it possible to rectify get out of this dispute as soon as possible ” [ The world ]. The Parisian reports that Nicolas Hulot defends himself from any wait-and-see attitude. It is difficult to act quickly, says Nicolas Hulot ” because we inherit past choices in terms of spatial planning, energy policy or transport, but we have already begun a profound transformation “.
Olivier Blond, president of the association Respire (National Association for the Prevention and Improvement of Air Quality), spoke for himself in a more offensive way on USAinformations . He points out that “France has laws with pollution standards, and it does not enforce its own laws” giving rise to “ecological no-right zones”. According to him, it’s a question of ” practices, fraud in the automotive industry, citizens’ responsibilities, because each is individually responsible “.
Financial threat
The world explains that France is exposed to a significant financial threat: ” the texts provide for a penalty of at least 11 million euros and daily penalty payments of at least 240,000 euros until the air quality standards are met But the newspaper relativise: ” the procedure can still last several years “and” so far only two countries have been convicted by the CJEU for exposing their citizens to polluted air “This is Poland in February and Bulgaria in April 2017. Nevertheless” they escaped a fine, which could also be the case of France “.
” As the best defense is often the attack “according to The Parisian , ” the cities of Paris, Madrid and Brussels have decided to sue the European Commission ” in justice. ” The city halls of Paris and Brussels have pleaded before the Court of the European Union in Luxembourg to cancel a European regulation on the standards of emission of gaseous pollutants by cars, which they consider too lax “[ France 24 ]. Indeed, ” since September 2017, car manufacturers benefit from a 110% tolerance margin for nitrogen oxide emissions from new vehicles put into circulation “.” This is twice the 80mg / km threshold for laboratory tests ” Explain France 24 .

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