Tuesday, March 21

Brussels criticizes Madrid 360 and the Almeida low-emissions zone for “insufficient”

The European Commission has been blunt. The measures applied by the Madrid City Council of José Luis Martínez-Almeida, both Madrid 360 and the Low Emissions Zone are “insufficient” to meet the air quality objectives set out in the European directive. This was stated by the representative of the Community Executive, Eulalia Sanfrutos, at the hearing this Thursday in Luxembourg in the case of the European Commission against Spain for the emissions in Madrid, and in Catalonia-Barcelona as a region, the Baix Llobregat and the Vallès Western and Eastern.

Regarding the Low Emissions Zone, Sanfrutos has stated: “It is not a sufficient measure, because it covers a small area, excludes numerous vehicles, provides for too many exceptions, establishes measures deferred over time and sets a horizon that is too far away”.

Sanfrutos has not been more lenient with Madrid 360: “It is not an air quality plan, it is only a strategy and there is no precise calendar for its implementation.”

The representative of the Kingdom of Spain, María José Ruiz Sánchez, for her part, has criticized that the European Commission does not take into account the “trend”, and has defended the 2021 data, which the European Commission has not taken into account for ” not be approved” yet by the European Environment Agency. In addition, the Community Executive has insisted that “there only ceases to be a systematic breach when it is fulfilled for a while, and the 2020 data has a lot to do with the pandemic.”

In the rapporteur’s questions phase, Judge Andreas Kumin, Spain acknowledges the previous breaches, but states that he can circumvent the application of the directive by “the trend. Here the trend is not partial, the breach is not maintained. For practical purposes , we can talk about compliance, there can be no systematic non-compliance and currently neither annual nor hourly values ​​are exceeded”.

The lawyer for the Kingdom of Spain has defended that “the measures are becoming more ambitious”, in relation to those adopted by Madrid: “It is uncertain that there have been gaps in the application. The data proves us right, already in 2020 we were in compliance except for a marginal situation. And in 2021 it will be extended, a task in which you cannot let your guard down”.

Sanfrutos, for his part, replied: “The last few years have been special due to the pandemic, and the Commission wants to ensure that the downward trend is sustainable over time. The limit values ​​of the directive have been known since 1999, and I am surprised the optimism of the Kingdom of Spain, because even if it is indeed confirmed that Spain has put an end to the default in 2021, we are talking about a widespread and persistent default for many, very, very long years, and of measures that have not been adequate to solve it as soon as possible. They are mandatory values ​​since 2010 and the States have known them since 1999”.

“The Kingdom of Spain has started up too late”, Sanfrutos has sentenced: “It cannot be an excuse. It is not up to the Commission to say what measures should be adopted”.