The European Commission has continued to maintain a hard line against countries that are yet to comply with EU air quality legislation limiting fine particulate matter (PM10) concentrations. Belgium, Greece and Romania have all been requested to come into compliance with the legislation, or face possible referral to the Court of Justice of the EU. A second and final warning has been sent to the UK, which also faces a potential legal case over PM10 levels.
As reported previously in Acid News (see 2/2010, p. 5, and 1/2010, p. 9), the European Commission has repeatedly denied the majority of requests for time extensions in meeting the binding PM10 limits. While full compliance should have been achieved in 2005, under the 2008 Directive on Ambient Air Quality, extensions until June 2011 can be granted in strict circumstances. This includes the requirement that countries demonstrate they will achieve compliance within the extended time period. In declining the requests of Belgium, Greece and the UK for extensions, the Commission was not satisfied these requirements had been met.
The issue is a potential embarrassment for London Major Boris Johnson, reported the Guardian newspaper. A study commissioned by Johnson himself had earlier found that poor air quality was causing 4,300 deaths and costing £2 billion each year in London.
Sources: Commission press releases 24 June and 3 June; John Vidal, "London air pollution 'worst in Europe'", The Guardian, 25 June 2010.