Top EU court: Germany 'persistently' broke air pollution rules

Top EU court: Germany 'persistently' broke air pollution rules
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A top European Union court Thursday ruled that Germany “systematically and persistently” surpassed limits on nitrogen dioxide emissions in various regions in the country from 2010 to 2016.

The European Court of Justice ruling said Germany broke annual limits in 26 of the 89 regions examined, including the capital Berlin.

Germany was also faulted for not having plans in place to make sure the emissions stayed within the E.U.-approved range.

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The case against Germany was first brought by the European Commission.

The country faces potential financial penalties if it does not improve air quality in the regions, which also include the Hamburg, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart areas. Germany also exceeded the hourly limit of NO2 emissions in Stuttgart and Rhine-Main.

“Germany has failed to fulfil its obligations under the directive and, in particular, the obligation to ensure that air quality plans provide appropriate measures so that the period during which the limit values are exceeded is kept as short as possible. The Court therefore allows the action brought by the European Commission, for the abovementioned limit periods, in its entirety,” the court announced.

Air pollution has eased across Europe in recent years but remains one of the continent’s largest environmental health risks. Past rulings from the court have also faulted France and Britain for excessive NO2 pollution, and Hungary, Sweden and Italy have all surpassed particulate matter limits.