"The Commission had to conclude that, in the case of six member states, the additional measures proposed are not sufficient to comply with air quality standards as soon as possible", EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella told a news conference.
Air pollution leads to more than 400,000 early deaths in Europe every year. ClientEarth had taken the British government to court twice in order for them to draft their Clean Air Act reportedly.
ClientEarth, the environmental campaign group which has led three successful legal challenges against the government's air quality plans in the United Kingdom courts, as well as a string of cases in Europe has called on the Commission to "swiftly" pursue justice in each case. This follows Volkswagen and the diesel emission fraud as well as the FCA scandal in Italy.
"We can not wait any longer", Vella said, warning that Brussels may end up waiting several more years before the countries put measures in place.
The Commission said the agreement also underlines the need to step up cooperation with the Member States by engaging with relevant authorities in new "Clean Air Dialogue", and by using European Union funding to support measures to improve air quality.
Three "pillars" of air quality improvement have been pegged by the Commission: setting out air quality standards, targets for reducing emissions and emissions standards for pollution sources.
United Kingdom referred to European court over illegal air pollution
Greenpeace Germany traffic expert Tobias Austrup, in response to Merkel's statement, warned that "the German government is giving the auto companies ineffective measures" to fight air pollution. But legal action alone will not solve the problem.
The government's own research shows clean air zones (CAZs), in which cars are deterred from city centres by pollution charges, are by far the most effective solution to air pollution. The Commission should have made no exceptions and referred them all.
The Luxembourg-based court can impose heavy fines.
The UK, France and Germany are being referred to court for failing to limit NO2 emissions while Italy and Hungary "persistently" have high levels of PM10. If a Brexit deal is agreed, Britain will be in the transition period and.
Also on Thursday, in the continuing fall-out from the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, the European commission issued renewed warnings to the UK, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg over their alleged failure to "have effective and dissuasive penalty systems in place to deter vehicle manufacturers from breaking the law".
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, industry commissioner said: "We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the vehicle sector plays its part".
Yanny or Laurel? Trump says, 'I hear covfefe'
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