The European Union’s top court on Thursday convicted Romania for failing to reduce pollution in Bucharest and guarantee clean air for residents, the environment minister said.
Costel Alexe accused the Bucharest City Hall of not taking action to cut high pollution levels. “An entire country is condemned because of an irresponsible local administration,” he said at a news conference.
Alexe is a member of the ruling Liberal Party, while Bucharest mayor, Gabriela Firea, is a Social Democrat who is running for re-election this year. There was no immediate comment from Firea on the ruling.
The EU adopted the clean air package in 2013 and set out a ‘clean air program for Europe,’ designed to avoid premature deaths, save ecosystems and protect forest ecosystems from acidification.
It asks that targets are met and sets out new air quality objectives up to 2030.
Alexe said the European Commission had been “patient” and had given the city hall several years to decrease PM10 pollution.
PM10 are coarse particles that come from smoke, dirt and dust from factories, farming, and roads, as well as mold, spores, and pollen.
The European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Romania had not “met its obligations to improve the air quality… and had systematically violated the pollution norms in Bucharest.”
In the ruling on Thursday, the court ruled that “the daily limit values for PM 10 concentrations of particles have been systematically exceeded since 2007 until at least 2016 countrywide and the annual PM10 limits have been exceeded in Bucharest since 2007 until 2014.“
The European Commission sued Romania on the pollution in Bucharest in May 2018.
The Court says that Romania “has not met its obligations on the air quality and a clean air for Europe, enshrined in the article 13, paragraph 1 in the Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament.
The court ordered Romania to pay Romania will pay the legal fees, but there is no further sanctions.
However, Alexe said Romania still risks a new infringement procedure due to the high level of pollution, as well as fines of 1.6 million euros.
In early March, national network and independent networks monitoring air quality in Bucharest registered record levels of pollution of PM 10 and PM 2.5, which are much finer particles and more damaging to people’s health.