European Commission refers Bulgaria to court over air quality issues

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The European Commission said on Thursday that it has referred Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to comply with a previous court ruling which found that Bulgaria is in breach of the EU’s ambient air quality legislation.

“In particular, Bulgaria systematically and continuously failed to comply with the limit values for particulate matter (PM10) and to adopt appropriate measures to keep the period of exceedance as short as possible,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The court referral may result in financial penalties both for the time elapsed after the first judgement as for the time required after the second judgment until achieving full compliance.

“Data provided by Bulgaria, covering the years 2015 to 2019, confirms that the systemic and continuous breach established by the Court persists. More than three years after the judgement, Bulgaria has not yet managed to ensure that all its air quality zones and agglomerations comply with the limit values set in the Directive,” the Commission also said.

Bulgaria has made almost no progress, with most of the recommended measures still a preparatory stage or set be implemented with effect as late as 2024.

Bulgaria witnesses some of the most severe exceedances in the EU of both annual and daily limit values for PM10, with the ensuing risks for its population’s health.

The Commission also said that it is sending a final warning to Bulgaria over its systemic failures in the implementation of EU nature legislation.

The EU institution also sent reasoned opinions to Bulgaria concerning its breach of EU rules on the provision of EU-wide multimodal travel information services and safety measures relating to the infrastructure and operation of tunnels.

Bulgaria also received letters of formal notice from the Commission for failing to submit its national long-term renovation strategy under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, as well as for its failure to ensure full application of the EU legislation on oil stocks.

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