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EU: Legally enforceable right to clean air

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that citizens have a legally enforceable right to clean air. Individuals affected by high concentrations of particulate matter can now call on the courts throughout the EU to ensure that effective measures are taken to improve the quality of the air.
The authority involved must then draw up an action plan listing the measures to be taken in the short term. The measures must be capable of reducing to a minimum the risk that limit values may be exceeded and of ensuring a gradual return to a level below the ceilings in the long term. The ECJ issued its ruling in response to a complaint lodged by a German citizen against the Munich municipal authority for neglecting to take effective measures to reduce air pollution. Having failed to achieve his goal in the German courts, he was finally successful in Luxemburg. The ECJ quoted an EU directive which provides for comprehensive action plans to be drawn up to tackle the complex problem of air-borne particulate matter.
Urban centres in the Alps and valleys with high levels of traffic in transit are regularly affected by high concentrations of particulate matter. In future the authorities there will find it less easy to turn a blind eye.
Sources and Information: http://curia.europa.eu/de/actu/communiques/index.htm (de/fr/it/en), www.presseportal.de/pm/22521/1234944/mail (de), TAZ, 26 July 2008