Spain allowed NO2 levels to exceed limits in Madrid and Barcelona, EU court rules

(The Guardian, 22 Dec 2022) EU argued that Spain failed to protect its citizens and ruling by ECJ paves way for Brussels to seek penalties.

Spain allowed nitrogen dioxide air pollution levels to systematically exceed EU limits in Madrid and Barcelona between 2010 and 2018, the European court of justice has ruled, potentially paving the way for Brussels to seek penalties.

The EU’s executive commission had asked the bloc’s top court in 2019 to take action against Spain over the poor air quality in its two biggest cities, arguing it was failing to protect citizens against pollution.

The commission has not said what penalties it might seek to impose, if any, but under the EU’s infringement procedure these can include either a daily payment or a lump sum.

The court found that harmful rates of NO2 in the air had exceeded the limits in areas with a combined population of 7.3 million people, including the two big cities and Valles-Baix Llobregat, an industrial area near Barcelona.

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The Guardian, 22 Dec 2022: Spain allowed NO2 levels to exceed limits in Madrid and Barcelona, EU court rules