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Brussels, 28 October 2010

Environment: Commission is taking Malta to Court for failing to implement EU laws to limit noise impacts

The European Commission is referring Malta to the European Court of Justice for failing to bring EU environmental legislation into force. Under EU law, strategic noise maps had to be drawn up by June 2007. Malta does not yet have ambient noise maps at a national level, despite several letters from the Commission issued under ongoing infringement proceedings. At the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is referring the case to the Court of Justice.

The Commission is referring Malta to the EU's Court of Justice for its failure to establish ambient noise maps and make available them to the public. These strategic noise maps are meant to help assess the number of citizens exposed to noise and guide Member State actions towards reduced noise exposure where deemed necessary. Under EU law, Member States are also required to send information from these strategic noise maps to the Commission.

The proceedings were launched a year ago, after Malta failed to prepare strategic noise maps within the prescribed timeframe. A letter of formal notice was issued, followed by a reasoned opinion in March 2010 and an additional reasoned opinion in June 2010. (See IP/10/832))

The Commission understands that Malta is now taking steps to prepare the maps in question, but the significant delays involved have led the Commission to refer this case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.


The Noise Directive, 2002/49/EC, defines a common approach intended to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects of noise on human health, including annoyance and sleep disturbance due to exposure to environmental noise. Noise mapping is a crucial step to fulfil the objectives of the Directive, and the strategic noise maps had to be established no later than 30 June 2007. Noise maps are required for all agglomerations with more than 250 000 inhabitants and for all major roads which have more than six million vehicle passages a year anywhere within the territories of the Member States. In 2005, Malta informed the Commission that the greater Valletta agglomeration had more than 250,000 inhabitants and that there were such major roads in Malta. Accordingly, Malta must establish noise maps covering these areas.

The Directive requires noise from road traffic, railways, major airports and industry to be assessed. It does not cover noise generated by other activities such as gardening, construction work or leisure activities.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:


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