The European Commission will decide next month whether to take legal action against nine member states for breaching EU air pollution rules after they submitted plans to address the issue.
EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella had told ministers from the nine nations, including the bloc’s biggest economies Germany, Britain and France, at a meeting last month that Brussels’ patience was running thin.
The countries, which also include Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, were given 10 days to present “additional credible, timely and effective measures” to reduce pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, a Commission spokeswoman said.
“The Commission can confirm that all member states concerned have submitted additional information, which we will evaluate,” the spokesman said. “We will come back to the matter in mid-March,” he added.
The Commission estimates that 400,000 people die every year as a result of airborne pollution, and targets introduced for 2005 and 2010 are still being exceeded in 23 of 28 EU countries.
Germany, in a letter to the Commission dated Feb. 11 and seen by Reuters, said it was considering plans to make public transport free in cities suffering from air quality problems. It also outlined more conventional measures such as low emissions zones.
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