The European Court of Justice backs 5 Brussels citizens of CleanAirBxl and ClientEarth in our fight for clean air in Brussels. The EU top Court rules that citizens have the right to go to court to challenge how and where authorities are monitoring pollution. National courts are not only competent to check the location of air quality measurement points but also to take all necessary measures against the national authority concerned to ensure air pollution monitoring stations are at the right spots in accordance with EU air quality law. Finally, authorities cannot hide high levels of air pollution in some areas by using a city-wide average in their calculations, because people's health is at risk wherever the limit values are exceeded.
The case will now return to the Court of First instance in Brussels for a final judgment.
The Brussels Court had asked the European Court of Justice to clarify EU air pollution law. In advance of this ruling, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice states that:
Following multiple days of exceedingly high concentrations of PM2.5, the Brussels government introduced “emergency” measures that would come into effect if concentrations of PM2.5 remained between 51-70 μg/m3 for two consecutive days. These measures include free public transport, driving restricted to 50km/h on roads limited to 70 and 90 km/h (120km/h roads would be limited to90km/h) and prohibiting the use of wood burning stoves.
Outcome of January tribunal. The Brussels government avoids having to immediately monitor air pollution at hotspots by using a technicality. The court of first instance issues a ruling, reserving the decision on monitoring stations until the entire case is concluded.
Court hearing on the illegal absence of key air quality monitoring stations in Brussels. As part of the complaint lodged in September, ClientEarth identified that monitoring stations at Arts-Loi and Rue Belliard had been turned off since 2008 and 2014, respectively.
Note: Since the hearing, the monitoring station at Arts-Loi has been switched back on. However, Brussels authorities refuse to use the results from this station despite it consistently reporting the highest levels of NO2.
ClientEarth and five citizens launch a clean air legal challenge against the Brussels regional government. The case focuses on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful gas, which in towns and cities comes mostly from diesel vehicles. The legal challenge calls for the authorities to produce an effective plan to clean up the city’s air as well as correctly monitor air pollution in the city