Italy has failed to manage toxic levels of particulate matter across the country, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled.
The ruling says that the timelines Italy laid out for compliance, in some cases predicting legal levels nearly two decades after the 2005 deadline are unjustifiable.
This ruling is particularly important because it comes from the Grand Chamber and, therefore, provides a final interpretation of the obligations of governments under EU air quality law.
Without action to resolve the situation, Italy could face significant fines.
ClientEarth clean air lawyer Ugo Taddei said: ‘Italy is one of the worst countries in the EU for air quality and illegal levels of pollution have been a multi-year, nationwide emergency.
‘This ruling is the result of years of poor management of the issue at a regional and national level – a failure which has put people’s health on the line.
‘This judgment should leave national leaders with no choice but to act without further delay. We need to see a complete turnaround, with new regional air quality plans that slash levels of pollution in the shortest time possible, to bring air quality within legal limits.
‘Cities and Member States across the EU have been subject to legal action by civil society and by the EU itself because being forced to breathe dirty air is unacceptable in the 21st century.
‘Now, in the face of Covid-19, we have all been reminded how important it is to protect respiratory health. We can no longer pay the price of toxic air.’
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