Citizens cannot sue states for health damages due to air pollution, EU top court rules – POLITICO

People who have suffered health damages related to air pollution cannot take their country to court and sue for damages, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled Thursday.

“European directives establishing norms for ambient air quality do not, as such, have the objective of conferring rights to individuals whose violation would be susceptible to open a right to compensation,” the court wrote in a press release.

But individuals can sue their state for not abiding by European rules on air pollution, and request that they “adopt the necessary measures,” the statement reads.

The decision from the EU’s top court comes after the French administrative court of appeal of Versailles asked for its opinion before ruling on a related case, in which a resident of the Paris area was asking the French state for €21 million in compensation.

The French resident claimed his health declined because of the degradation of air quality in the Paris area that stemmed, according to him, from the French state’s breach of EU air quality rules.

The CJEU decision goes against an opinion from one of its advocates general, Juliane Kokott, who wrote in May that member states could be held liable for air pollution-related health damages.

The right for individuals to ask their governments for compensation over health damages due to air pollution is currently being discussed at the EU level, as part of a wider revision of the bloc’s air quality and industrial emission rules.

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