BRUSSELS – The European Commission urged on Tuesday nine European Union member states, including Spain, to consider air pollution a key priority and warned it would resort to legal processes if swift action was not taken to deal with it.
Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella told the press following a meeting with representatives from the countries concerned that action was needed and that taking measures to reduce air pollution was in the interest of protecting citizens.
“Without new and effective measures, in many cases, air quality standards will further continue to be exceeded for months and years, even well beyond 2020,” Vella said.
“In the face of such longstanding failures to take serious action, and in view that the ongoing legal process will continue, I urge all member states to address this life-threatening problem with the urgency it deserves,” he added.
Representatives from Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom were in talks with the Commission over excessive levels of particulate matter and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
Vella said the issue needed to become a “key priority” for whole governments and pointed out that thousands of people were dying due to air pollution.
“Still today, in 2018, 400,000 people are still dying prematurely every year before of a massive, widespread failure to address the problem,” he waged, adding that “many more” suffered from air quality-related illnesses.