France condemned over air pollution law

Off-road machinery directive not transposed within deadline, European Court rules

France has been condemned by the European Court of Justice after failing to write into national law a 1997 EU directive aimed at reducing air pollution from off-road vehicles and machinery. In a case brought by the European Commission, France admitted it had missed the June 1998 transposition deadline by over a year, but said it had now prepared legislation to comply with the directive.

Paris is the first capital to be condemned over the law; concurrent cases brought by the Commission against Italy and Ireland were both dropped before court rulings. The directive limits emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulates and hydrocarbons from internal combustion engines in mobile generators, earth-moving equipment and the like, with the exception of agricultural tractors.

Under the law, the EU was to have agreed tighter pollutant limits by the end of this year, "taking into account the global availability of techniques for reducing controlling air-polluting emissions...and the air quality situation". Though new limits have not yet emerged, rules on noise from outdoor machinery were agreed this year.

Follow Up:
European Court of Justice, tel: +352 43031, and the judgement in case C-320/99.

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