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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article7 June 20182 min read

Clean air rules violations lead to infringement procedures by the European Commission

Violations of EU clean air rules have resulted in the start of infringement procedures against France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom. 

The European Commission announced its intention to take action against Member States as a result of breaches of EU rules on air pollution. The six Member States are being taken to the Court of Justice for the EU in an effort to ensure the rules are enforced. In a press release issued on 17 May 2018, the Commission announced its plans as a result of the Member States' lack of action to reduce the significant and persistent exceedances of limit values for two key pollutants with health impacts: nitrogen dioxide, which is mostly a result of road traffic and industry, and particulate matter, which is mainly present in emissions from industry, domestic heating, traffic, and agriculture.

Commissioner for Environment, Karmenu Vella said: “The decision to refer Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU has been taken on behalf of Europeans. We have said that this Commission is one that protects. Our decision follows through on that claim. The Member States referred to the Court today have received sufficient 'last chances' over the last decade to improve the situation. It is my conviction that today's decision will lead to improvements for citizens on a much quicker timescale. But legal action alone will not solve the problem. That is why we are outlining the practical help that the Commission can provide to the national authorities' efforts to promote cleaner air for European cities and towns."

The Commission has also provided practical help for national, regional and local governments in an effort to aid in attempts to improve air quality in Europe. 'A Europe that protects: Clean air for all' outlines measures that Member States can use in the fight to improve air quality and reduce pollution. The communication is accompanied by a factsheet that outlines existing legislative measures and standards that are in place to address air pollution. In addition, the factsheet provides details of financial assistance that has been made available to national, regional and local governments by the EU;

  • €372 million under the EU Urban Agenda and Urban Innovative Actions,
  • €1.8 billion for Member States to support air quality measures under the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020; and
  • €1 billion support for 39 clean transport projects.

For more information about the infringement procedures and the Clean air for all Communication, see:



Publication date
7 June 2018
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Europe-wide