How class actions set precedents
At the January 31, 2012 The European Commission filed a lawsuit before the European Court of Justice because the government of Poland violated the EU's air quality directive into national law and put all the necessary provisions of the CAFE directive into force. At the same time, the EU Commission applied for a temporary financial penalty of 71,521.38 euros per day. When Poland informed the EU Commission that the directive had been transposed into national law, the Commission withdrew the action in case C-48/12. As a result, the President of the Court ruled on January 8, 2013 to remove the case from the agenda. In addition, the EU Commission decided to initiate infringement proceedings with regard to the areas in which PM10Limits are exceeded and no deadline extensions have been approved to begin. The infringement procedures are based on Articles 258 or 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly Articles 226 and 228) and are currently in progress (infringement procedure 2008/2199).
At the December 10, 2015 the EU Commission has filed a lawsuit against Poland at the European Court of Justice due to the persistent fine dust pollution and the resulting health risk. The daily limit value for PM10 has been exceeded in 35 of 46 clean air areas for years. In addition, the annual limit value for PM10 is exceeded in nine areas. The largest source of particulate matter pollution are small combustion systems in private households. In February 2015 the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the Polish government.
In 2015, a resident of one of the most polluted cities in Śląskie Voivodeship, supported by the Frank Bold Foundation, filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of State Assets demanding compensation for the violation of his personal rights caused by high levels of air pollution. The plaintiff alleges that the Polish state authorities, including the Ministry of the Environment, have failed to comply with the limit values for pollutant concentrations set by both EU and national law. Extreme air pollution affects not only his health, but also his freedom of movement as well as his home and family life. The case is still under review by the court in the first instance, with the verdict expected in the first half of 2018.
AMBITIOUS AIR CLEANING PLANS
In 2015, an anti-smog activist and a resident of a heavily polluted city in the southern Malopolskie Voivodeship, with the support of the Frank Bold Foundation, filed a complaint against the Voivodeship's Clean Air Plan because the measures it contained were insufficient to make a significant improvement affect the air quality in the region. Both the District Administrative Court in Krakow and the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the complaint due to lack of legal capacity. Both judgments were based on the provision of Polish law, according to which a decision of the state government can only be challenged in court if it directly violates the complainant's legal interests. It is impossible to meet this condition in the case of an air quality plan where the legal interest is violated by air pollution, not by the plan itself. As a result, a complaint has been lodged with the Constitutional Court against the rule that prohibits citizens from contesting air quality plans. The case has been accepted for examination by the Constitutional Court, and the verdict is not expected until the end of 2018 at the earliest. However, the complaint has already contributed to increasing pressure on the regional authorities. In 2017, a new, vastly improved air pollution plan was passed, along with an anti-smog resolution that introduced restrictions on the use of solid fuels in the region.
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