France and Germany want more time to meet NO2 limits

The European Commission has dismissed all applications from France to delay a 2010 deadline for meeting the EU’s NO2 air quality standard. It has also rejected many requests from Germany for derogations.

France had sought five more years to meet the annual average concentration limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre in 21 areas. It also wanted more time to comply with the annual and hourly limits in Marseilles, Lyons and Paris. But the country failed to provide enough evidence to prove it would comply by 2015, and demonstrating compliance is a key condition for getting the five-year derogation. The French government is currently preparing new policies to avoid paying an EU fine for breaches of EU law.

The Commission also rejected requests for a five-year derogation in 33 German cities and regions. It did, however, approve 21 applications. The decision leaves Germany’s eight largest cities, including the capital Berlin, in breach of the annual NO2 limit, which means that the Commission may now begin infringement action for non-compliance in these areas.

Germany also sought more time to meet the hourly concentration limit in four areas. Applications for Stuttgart and Munich were refused, while those for Tübingen and Hamburg were approved under certain conditions.

In December, the Commission turned down Luxembourg’s request for a five-year extension with the NO2 standards. It did however approve extended compliance deadlines in three parts of Spain, which means that Granada will have until 2015 to meet the annual standard. But the Henares corridor (near Madrid) and the southern part of the capital must comply by the end of the year.

Source: ENDS Europe Daily, 11 January and 26 February 2013

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