EC takes Bulgaria to court over poor air quality

The European Commission said on June 17 that it has referred Bulgaria to the EU Court of Justice, saying that the country failed to implement measures to reduce “persistently high levels of the dust particles which pose a major risk to public health.”

Bulgaria has repeatedly scored the worst in the EU in terms of reducing the concentration of dust particles – specifically in the PM10 category, which tracks particulate matter in the one-hundredth of a millimetre size range – according to the EU’s annual air quality surveys.

In Bulgaria, despite a number of measures taken and some reductions in PM10 emissions registered at most monitoring points since 2011, the data shows persisting non-compliance with the annual and/or daily limit values for PM10 in all the country’s six zones and agglomerations other than in Varna, which complied with the annual limit value once (in 2009), the Commission said in a statement.

These particles – mostly resulting from human activities such as transport, industry and domestic heating –cause respiratory problems, lung cancer and premature death. “Studies show that every year poor air quality causes more deaths than road traffic accidents,” the Commission said.

“Measures are necessary to improve air quality, and by targeting the failures to act, the Commission hopes to ensure that member states will take decisive, problem-solving action,” the EC said.

The court case is the final stage of EU infringement proceedings and follows a reason opinion, which the EC sent in July 2014.

(Smog over Sofia, photo by dewfall/




The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.