February 27, 2021

Brussels denounces Spain for the pollution of Madrid and Barcelona – La Provincia

The European Commission will take Spain to the Court of Justice of the European Union due to the bad air situation in several Spanish urban centers, especially Madrid, Barcelona and Baix Llobregat, after verifying that it has not taken the urgent measures required to stop high levels of pollution.

"The most recent data on air quality offered by Spain confirm the systematic breach of European standards on nitrogen dioxide levels (NO2), rules that are legally binding since 2010," he explained at a press conference in Brussels on Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. The community leader said that the file opened against Spain for the repeated breach in the legal limits of NO2 is not due to the problems of a single city, but is a broader problem where there are "the problem areas are mainly three: Madrid , Barcelona and Baix Llobregat ".

However, sources from the Ministry of Ecological Transition said that Baix Llobregat complies with the legal limits since 2018. They also stressed that the file no longer contains Urbana sur, in Madrid, which was previously listed and has also failed to comply.

Vella recalled that the Commission services have been in contact with the Spanish authorities to try to resolve this situation before reaching the courts, but regretted that these efforts have not worked. Brussels decided in May of last year to suspend the file against Spain, despite bringing other Member States to the European Justice, considering that the package of measures presented by the authorities, which included the implementation of Central Madrid, was sufficient to "address the shortcomings detected as long as they are executed correctly".

However, the Community Executive found that pollution levels remain a risk to the health of citizens, said the commissioner, who declined to answer the question of whether the fact that the Madrid City Council announced its intention to cancel The Madrid Central plan has influenced its decision. "As regards Central Madrid, this infraction does not only have to do with Madrid, there are other affected areas, and we usually do not comment on specific advertisements, although we always underline that effective measures are needed to improve air quality. But it corresponds to the Member States choose the measures to achieve the results ", the European leader settled.

The commissioner added that, in addition to the letter he sent this month to the Ministry for Ecological Transition to convey his "concern" and request urgent measures, he also called on regional and local authorities to "contribute to the design and implementation of measures to ensure "that the legal limits are met. "In the end, our interest is to protect the exit of the local population," said Vella, who said that according to the European Environment Agency, in Spain almost 9,000 premature deaths per year are attributable to NO2.

Following the decision to bring Spain to justice in Luxembourg, the legal services of the Commission will now take about two months to prepare the legal claim they will present before the European Court. The deadline will allow to take into account the most recent data on pollution, corresponding to 2018, that Brussels expects to receive from the Ministry in September, as explained by community sources, which could influence the areas indicated.

In any case, European officials warned that Spain does not comply with air quality obligations and that "it does not seem that it will comply in the short term."

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