29th Nov 2022

EU: National capitals failing to meet climate rules costs €55bn

  • There are currently ongoing infringement procedures against 18 member states for failing to implement current EU air quality rules (Photo: Ron F)
Listen to article

"EU member states must fully and properly apply the environmental rules we already have without any further delay … as non-compliance costs €55bn per year," the EU commissioner for environment Virginijus Sinkevičius warned on Thursday (8 September).

The commission's third report on the implementation of environmental policy revealed that there is already an investment gap of up to €110bn per year to back up the green transition.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Meanwhile, biodiversity in the EU continues to decline, air pollution is still at dangerous levels in many member states and the status of water bodies and drinking water remains a source of concern.

"Climate adaptation efforts in each country and at EU level need to be urgently intensified," Sinkevičius added.

The commission noted that 25 EU member states still need to define conservation objectives and complete the designation of protected areas under Natura 2000 to improve the alarming status of vulnerable habitats and species in the bloc.

Brussels also raised concerns over emissions trends of air pollutants in all member states, and their impact on health and the economy.

While the EU set legally-binding air quality standards to tackle air pollution in 2015, the vast majority of the population in Europe is still exposed to air-pollutant concentrations above the international air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization.

There are currently ongoing infringement procedures against 18 member states, for failing to implement current EU air quality rules — including referrals to the EU Court of Justice against Romania, Greece, Malta, Italy, and Austria.

It is estimated that reducing air pollution to WHO-recommended levels in the EU could prevent 51,213 premature deaths each year.

The lack of proper implementation of drinking water rules and the fact that wastewater is not properly treated before being released into the environment in many EU countries was also highlighted by the commission report.

Inappropriate water management and nature protection have also triggered 47 active infringement procedures against EU member states.

The EU executive also said that more action is needed to reduce waste and improve the recyclability of, for example, plastics, construction materials and textiles.

Additionally, EU member states were told to improve citizens' and NGOs' access to national courts to challenge political decisions.

Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'

Many European citizens are still exposed to illegal and dangerous levels of pollution, especially badly in Italy and Poland, new data from the European Environment Agency revealed.

CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find

The European Court of Auditors has urged the European Commission to establish measurable commitments to tackle biodiversity loss caused by intensive farming - as the Common Agriculture Policy has so far failed to reverse this long-standing issue.


Asbestos — two to three times more deadly than known

Where once working men in heavy industry were diagnosed with cancers related to a more direct exposure to asbestos, now women in professions such as teaching, nursing and other occupations are being diagnosed, as well as young people.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  2. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  3. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  4. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan
  5. EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK
  6. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  7. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  8. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us