EU: Spain 'systematically' violated environmental regulations
Brussels denounces member state over air pollution in Barcelona and Madrid
Brussels has denounced Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union for the air pollution levels in Barcelona and Madrid deemed unacceptable.
On Thursday, the European Commission announced the decision to bring Spain to the courts for failing to "respect the limits of nitrogen dioxide" in these urban areas.
Two weeks after giving an ultimatum to the Spanish authorities with a letter of warning about the inadequacy of environmental measures, the EU executive went a step further by passing the case to the Luxembourg-based court.
The European Commission explained that these areas have "systematically" violated regulations on the limits of polluting gases, which have been legally binding since 2010.
Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said “there is an urgency to implement measures to improve air quality.”
“Normally we do not comment on specific announced measures but we always stress that effective measures are needed to achieve a better quality of air,” Vella went on to explain. “But then it’s up to the member states to choose the measures to achieve the results,” he added.
According to the European Commission, the latest air quality data shows that in Barcelona, the Vallès Occidental county, part of the Baix Llobregat county, and Madrid, the legal limits of nitrogen dioxide have been "persistently" exceeded.
In the announcement, Brussels also reminded Spain that almost 9,000 people die prematurely every year in the country due to this polluting gas, according to data from the European Environment Agency.