İrem UZUN -TDO- Italy has "persistently and systematically" breached EU rules against small-particle air pollution, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found Tuesday in a ruling supporting legal action by Brussels against Rome. The ECJ found that concentrations of particulate matter were too high in several urban and industrial centers of Italy such as Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples and the busy Po Valley. Particulate matter is made up of dust, pollen, soot, smoke and other particles suspended in the air that are harmful to human health and the environment. Smog has long been a persistent complaint in many Italian cities.

"Daily and annual limit values for PM10 (size of particulate matter in the air) were very regularly exceeded" in zones highlighted by the European Commission in an infringement procedure launched two years ago, the court said in a statement. Further, "the Italian Republic has manifestly failed to adopt in good time the measures" required under the EU's Air Quality Directive, which aims to reduce unhealthy pollution in Europe's air.

The European Commission accused Italy of violating particulate matter limits between 2008 and 2017, and not taking enough steps to reduce air pollution. In October 2018, it sued Italy in the ECJ.  The court said the commission’s complaint was well founded and based on sound evidence. It said particulate matter regularly exceeded limits set down by the directive in Italy’s trouble spots.

Italy is among several EU states being sued by the commission for not complying with the directive. Germany, France, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary each face their own proceedings. 

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