Brussels, 28 October 2010
Environment: Commission urges Belgium to adopt measures to implement air quality legislation
The European Commission is urging Belgium to adopt the measures necessary to bring new EU air quality legislation into force across the whole country. To date the legislation has only been transposed in one of the three regions. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, a reasoned opinion is being sent by the Commission. Failing this, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
According to the Directive, Member States should have transposed the legislation into national law before 11 June 2010. Member States are required to inform the Commission once they have adopted the necessary implementation measures.
In Belgium, the transposition of EU legislation on environment is generally a competence of three regions – Wallonia, Flanders and the Brussels-Capital Region. As the Commission was not notified of all the implementing measures by the Belgian regions, it issued a letter of formal notice to Belgium on 16 July 2010.
The Commission has since received notification that the legislation has been adopted in one of the three regions. However, as not all regions have adopted the legislation, the Commission is sending Belgium a reasoned opinion.
Directive 2008/50/EC revises European legislation relating to ambient air quality with the aim of reducing pollution to levels which minimise the harmful effects on human health and on the environment and improving information to the public on the risks involved. It introduces a limit on airborne concentrations of fine dust particles (known as PM2.5). These particles, which are emitted by a wide range of sources including diesel vehicles, industrial processes and household boilers, are today recognised as the most dangerous air pollutant for human health. The Directive does not change existing air quality standards for seven pollutants1 but gives Member States more flexibility in meeting some of these – including limits on coarser particles (known as PM10) that took effect at the start of 2005 – in zones where they faced difficulties.
For current statistics on infringements in general see:
Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, coarse particles (PM10), carbon monoxide, benzene and ground-level ozone