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Despite over 300 environmental zones: EU takes Italy to court

The European Court of Justice has upheld the European Commission's action, demanding that Italy act more quickly to reduce air pollution.

Italy has been exceeding EU air pollution limits for years. The country has now introduced an incredible number of more than 300 environmental zones. Most of them have very different rules and the information they provide is difficult to access. Nevertheless, the country is not getting a grip on air pollution, especially in terms of particulate matter. This is partly due to the fact that the Italian government's plans in some regions envisage reaching the limit values only 20 years after the EU air quality directive enters into force.

After Tuesday's ruling, which refers to air values from 2008 to 2017, Italy must now implement the plans much faster and do more for the health of its citizens.

In 2019, the EU had already successfully sued France for repeatedly exceeding nitrogen oxide limits. And there are also proceedings against Germany, for nitrogen oxide, which is largely emitted by diesel engines.

The question remains, with over 300 environmental zones in Italy, about 60 environmental zones in Germany, various diesel driving bans and a tangle of temporary and permanent zones in France - why can the states not comply with the limits? Is the EU too strict or are the measures taken ineffective? Are the requirements at all feasible?

One thing is certain: the ruling against Italy will probably make driving bans in Italy's existing low emission zones much stricter - after all, it is hard to imagine even more low emission zones. Germany has been put under further pressure by the decision, so that further diesel driving bans may come. 

You can find the zones in Germany, France and other EU countries in our Green Zones app and on our website, so you are immune to the adventurous developments of driving bans in Europe.