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Minister blames EU case against air pollution levels on Madrid measure

New low emissions zone coming to Barcelona in 2020, says Catalan official

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05 August 2019 10:22 AM

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ACN|Barcelona

The minister for sustainability and territory, Damià Calvet, has admitted that the European Commission has had a file open on the air pollution levels in Madrid and Barcelona since 2015, but said the recent court case brought against Spain was “not a surprise" even though they “didn’t expect it,” and blamed a new Madrid local council measure for the court case.

Speaking with the Catalan News Agency, Calvet explained that the Catalan government did not expect the European Commission to take them to court as they are already planning new sustainability measures to counteract the high levels of pollution in the air in the Barcelona urban area.

Among the new measures coming to clean the air in Barcelona and its surrounding areas is a new low emissions zone “twenty times the size of Madrid Central” that is scheduled to be implemented by September 1, 2020.

“It will be one of the largest in Europe,” Calvet explains. “In this low emissions area, cars which surpass the emissions levels regulated by the Commission will be forbidden.”

“We feel that implementing this action and many others will let us present an answer to the Commission in 2021, which we hope will show that the air quality in Barcelona is under the levels of pollution.”

The Catalan minister said that while the European Commission file had been open for years already, the recent change in city council in Madrid has led to the European authorities to bring Spain to court, on the back of the People’s Party scrapping the ‘Madrid Central’ low emissions zone project.

“If you have a file from the European Commission, and you are dealing with it, and you say loud and clear that you want to ban a measure which is to improve air quality, obviously the Commission says ‘with a file already open, we are now going to take you to trial’,” Calvet said.

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  • Minister for sustainability and territory Damià Calvet during an interview with ACN on August 3, 2019 (Aina Martí/ACN)

  • Minister for sustainability and territory Damià Calvet during an interview with ACN on August 3, 2019 (Aina Martí/ACN)

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