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Brussels to rule on ten more air quality derogations

Publication date: 29 April 2009

The European Commission will rule on ten of nineteen national requests for delaying compliance with EU air quality goals before the summer, an official told ENDS on Tuesday. Most of these are requests to exceed limits on particulate matter (PM10) levels.

Earlier this month the commission approved a Dutch request to delay compliance with PM10 limits to mid-2011 and for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) to end-2014, with an exception for one zone where the commission feels the NO2 target could be met by end-2012.

Decisions on requests from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia, Greece, Spain, France and Hungary are due before July. The commission will rule on derogation requests from Poland, the Czech Republic, Malta, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Latvia and the UK – which submitted its request on Friday – before the end of the year.

Four member states exceeding PM10 limits still have nit asked for extra time to meet them: Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia and Romania. Sweden and Estonia have no immediate plans to seek a derogation, it seems. Slovenia is planning to do so but it is unclear when, while Romania was given additional time to file a request.

Infringement actions launched against ten member states in January will remain open until the commission has ruled on the relevant derogations. Some infringements – those against Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain – target countries who have not applied for sufficiently comprehensive derogations, the commission says.

Only four member states reported compliance with air quality rules. Finland and Lithuania demonstrated that where concentration limits were exceeded this was due to winter sanding of roads, which is explicitly allowed by the air quality directive. Ireland and Luxembourg reported no limits being breached.

Source: ENDS

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