Germany "persistently" broke air pollution rules, EU top court rules



Germany persistently violated EU limits on air pollution, the European Union's top court said today, in a ruling that could see the country face financial penalties if it fails to improve air quality in several big cities.

Air pollution in Europe has eased in the last decade but remains the continent's biggest environmental health risk. Prolonged exposure to dirty air can cause diabetes, lung disease and cancer.

The EU court of justice said that from 2010 to 2016, Germany breached the EU's annual limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in 26 zones, among them Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf. Stuttgart and Rhine-Maine also broke hourly NO2 limits in the period, it said.

Siding with the European Commission that brought the case, the court ruled the German government had failed to adopt measures to ensure compliance with EU air quality rules. Germany must now comply or face further legal action.

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