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Internal Market: Norway must tackle air pollution



Today, the EFTA Surveillance Authority delivered a reasoned opinion to Norway concerning breaches of EEA legislation related to air quality.

Citizens in many cities in Norway are exposed to pollutants at levels which are too high. In addition, Norway has failed to establish concrete action plans to address the problem.

Air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health across the EEA, and a variety of legal instruments have been introduced, designed to improve air quality. The Ambient Air Quality Directive establishes limit values for certain pollutants and, where these limits are exceeded, requires the States to produce action plans detailing how they will be met in the future.

On the basis of a complaint, the Authority has investigated Norway's compliance with the Directive. The Authority found that there have been breaches of the applicable concentration thresholds for three key pollutants: particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) at various points across the country from 2008 to the present day. In addition, Norway has failed to establish concrete action plans, meeting the requirements of the legislation,  to address the problem.

Bad air quality is also of interest to the European Commission which has similar ongoing infringement proceedings against two thirds of EU Member States.

Under the provisions of the Directive, States are able to apply for an extension of the deadline by which these concentration thresholds must be met. The Authority has received a request from Norway to extend the deadline with regard to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in four specified areas, namely Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and in the Western Zone.

Today, the Authority decided to accept the request in relation to Bergen, meaning that Norway has until 1 January 2015 to meet the limit values for NO2 there. In relation to the remaining three areas, the Authority has decided to reject the request. For both Trondheim and the Western Zone, the Authority considered that an extension was unnecessary as the limit values had been complied with in 2012. In the case of Oslo, the information provided by the Norwegian Government showed that even with an extension, there was unlikely to be compliance with the limit values before 2025.

A reasoned opinion is the second stage of EEA infringement proceedings. If Norway fails to take the measures necessary to comply with the reasoned opinion within two months, the Authority may refer the matter to the EFTA Court.




For further information, please contact:

Mr. Andreas Kjeldsberg Pihl
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187

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