The Court of Justice and the Environment

The Court of Justice and the Environment

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The EU strives for a high level
of environmental protection, adopting legislation to
protect natural habitats, keep air and water clean, ensure
our waste is disposed of safely, and tackle climate change. But these rules are only effective if they
are enforced in the same way across Europe. To make sure EU Member
States respect these laws, the Court of Justice can impose fines if
a country persistently flouts the rules. Around half of the cases imposing fines
on Member States involve the environment, in issues as diverse as unsafe landfill
sites, the habitats of endangered species and the treatment of waste
water in towns and cities. In a further case, the Court has ruled that
countries must implement effective plans to tackle air pollution in major cities
within the deadlines imposed by EU law and that citizens or environmental action
groups can bring a case before a national court to force a country to do so. The Court has also ruled in many cases
about the EU’s emissions trading scheme, designed to combat
climate change. Its judgments have confirmed that coal-fired power stations should
not be given preferential treatment over their less
polluting competitors and that airlines could
not escape the scheme. In this way the Court ensures
that we continue to enjoy the EU’s high levels of
environmental protection.

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