Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission has announced plans to sue EU member states over pollution, Reuters reports.
The EC is to sue Slovakia for breaching air pollution limits, Germany for failing to draw up conservation plans for the protection of more than 4,000 nature sites and Slovenia for waste water treatment failures in four cities and towns.
According to the EU Environment Agency, particulate pollution caused some 379,000 premature deaths in the bloc in 2018. While air pollution in the EU has dropped over the last decade, it still remains the top environmental risk in the bloc.o
EC has been suing member states since 2005
Since introducing legal limits on particulate pollution in 2005, the EC has launched a number of lawsuits against EU member states that fail to adhere to the rules.
The EC accuses Slovakia of having exceeded air pollution limits in the period between 2005 and 2019 with the exception of 2015 and 2016, and says the country’s efforts to address the problem failed to yield results.
Slovakia’s Minister of Environment, Ján Budaj, declared measures would be taken at local and national levels in order to address the air pollution problem. “We need a new political and social acceptance to clean the air of Slovakia and I am convinced that we will achieve that,” he noted.
Violations could result in financial penalties
If declared guilty, Slovakia would join nine EU member states found to have been in breach of air pollution rules. These include Italy, Romania and Sweden. Non-compliance could lead to the bloc imposing financial penalties on the countries in question.
The EC did point out that the mountainous Banská Bystrica Region did not exceed legal limits for air pollution in 2016 and that the city of Košice was not in violation in 2015 and 2016.
Particulate air pollution is associated with lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and is caused by vehicle emissions, industry and home heating.