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Brussels, 24 November 2010

Environment - Air quality: Commission urges nine Member States to implement revised legislation

The European Commission is urging nine Member States to comply with EU environmental legislation in the area of air quality. The Member States concerned are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. These Member States have failed to communicate the transposition of this legislation at national level to the Commission. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, a reasoned opinion is therefore being sent. Failing this, the Commission may refer the cases 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.

As the Commission was not notified of the relevant measures by the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Spain, it issued a letter of formal notice on 16 July 2010. Since the legislation has still not been adopted in these Member States, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. The Member States concerned have two months to comply.


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 pollutants[1] 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:

For more details on infringement procedures in general, see MEMO/10/605

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1] Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, coarse particles (PM10), carbon monoxide, benzene and ground-level ozone

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