Brussels has set legal limits on particulate matter since 2005, resulting in a series of legal actions against countries flouting the rules. Air pollution in Europe has eased in the last decade, but remains the continent’s biggest environmental health risk. Fine particulate pollution caused 379,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2018, according to the European Environment Agency.
The European Commission said on Thursday it was suing Slovakia for years-long breaches of legal limits on air pollution and started legal action against Germany and Slovenia for falling short on nature conservation and water treatment.
If found guilty, Slovakia would join a list of nine EU states that the bloc’s top court has found guilty of illegal air pollution, including Romania, Italy and Sweden. Failure to heed the rules could see those countries face further legal action from the EU to impose financial penalties.
The commission also sued Germany on Thursday for a “general and persistent” failure to produce sufficient conservation plans for more than 4,000 sites deemed important for protecting nature.