European Commission raps Belgium on the knuckles over air quality

European Commission raps Belgium on the knuckles over air quality

The European Commission on Thursday opened an infringement action against Belgium for failing to comply with EU legislation on air quality. The Commission noted in a press release that Brussels Region and the Antwerp area had failed to comply with maximum limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutive gas that originates in traffic fumes.

EU legislation requires member States to measure air quality throughout their territory and take measures to limit their citizens exposure to pollutants.

However, Belgium has persistently failed to meet its obligation to comply with the maximum value limits for NO2 in Brussels Region since their entry into effect in 2010, the Commission stated. It added that Antwerp had also exceeded the authorised value limits, even though it had been given an additional five years, until 2015, for the limits to go into effect.

Although some measures have been put in place against air pollution in Belgium, such as the designation of low-emission zones, the EU executive said it feared that they were not enough to achieve conformity as quickly as possible.

The Commission also questioned the manner in which air quality is tested in Belgium, including the location of NO2 measuring points in Brussels. It has thus decided to send a summons to Belgium, a first step in an infringement action that could eventually lead to financial penalties, it stated in its press release.

The Belgian authorities have two months to respond, failing which the Commission could decide to pursue the action by serving them with a reasoned opinion.

The Brussels Times

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