Nine European Union member States – including Spain and the UK – have been summoned to Brussels over air-pollution levels and will be expected to explain the steps they have taken to combat the problem.
The summit will ‘offer member States the chance to show they will be taking the right extra steps to deal with their current situation without delay and in compliance with European legislation’, says commissioner for environmental affairs, Karmenu Vella.
Along with Spain and Britain, representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Czechia, and Slovakia have been called in, since all nine countries show air-pollution levels that exceed the stipulated safe maximum.
In the case of Spain, affected areas are the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, and the Llobregat area just outside Barcelona.
This atypical summons responds, according to Vella, to a ‘need to protect European citizens’ and ‘clarify whether any improvements in air quality have been made’ before applying ‘legal consequences’ to offenders.
The European Commission has been ‘warning cities for a very long time’ about the problem and has offered them ‘advice and assistance’ in tackling it.
All nine countries have been told to confirm their presence by this coming Thursday, January 25, at the latest, and the summit will be held on Tuesday, January 30, says spokeswoman for the Commission, Mina Andreeva.
According to Commission data, around 400,000 people die every year in the EU as a direct result of air pollution.