EU takes Italy to court over clean air violations, Xylella plant disease, sewage


 Italy has been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for failure to comply with clean air regulations, the European Commission said in a statement on Thursday in which it said it is "standing up for Europeans' need to breathe clean air".

"The Commission is ... stepping up its enforcement against 7 Member States who have breached agreed EU rules on air pollution limits and type approval for cars," the statement said.

The EU executive arm said it is referring Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania and the UK to the CJEU for excessive air pollution. In addition, it is issuing letters of formal notice to Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, and the UK for disregarding EU vehicle approval rules.

In a separate statement out Thursday, the Commission said it is referring Italy to the EU Court for "failing to adequately prevent the further spread" of the Xylella plant bacteria after a 2013 outbreak of the highly contagious disease in olive trees in the southern Puglia region in the heel of Italy's boot.

Puglia farmers have engaged in a battle with the EU to prevent the infected olive trees -- some of which are hundreds of years old -- from being destroyed.

Xylella causes a variety of diseases, including plant withering and death, with huge economic impact for agriculture, public gardens and the environment. Elsewhere in Europe, Xylella has been found in fruit trees and ornamental plants such as oleanders, according to the European Commission.

Also on Thursday, the EU executive arm warned Italy it must comply with sewage treatment regulations or face sanctions, ANSA news agency reported.

In 2014, the CJEU found Italy failed to guarantee proper sewage collection and treatment in 41 urban areas with population of over 10,000 people and located near sweetwater basins (such as lakes and marshes).

In 2016, the European Commission requested sanctions of over 60 million euros (70.8 million U.S. dollars) against Italy for failing to provide proper sewage treatment in urban areas with population over 15,000.

Italy has also been found in violation of similar EU rules on sewage treatment in some 1,000 small urban areas, according to ANSA.(2018-05-18 Xinhua)

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