European Commission takes France to court over air pollution

The European Commission on Friday referred France to the Court of Justice of the European Union over failure to protect its citizens against poor air quality.

The EU executive says that France has not respected the daily limit values for particulate matter — microscopic particles that are mainly present in emissions from industry, traffic and home heating — in the zones of Paris and Martinique in most years since 2005, when the rules became legally binding.

It’s the second time France has been referred to the EU’s top court for failing to comply with the bloc’s air quality standards. Last year, the court ruled that the country had “persistently” exceeded limit values ​​for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in 12 air quality zones.

Despite the obligation for countries to ensure good air quality, air pollution remains the number one environmental health problem in the EU. According to the European Environment Agency, around 400,000 premature deaths can be attributed to air pollution each year in Europe.

The referral is part of a larger package of infringement cases published on Friday by the European Commission.

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