Lawsuits and decisions
On 31 January 2012 the European Commission filed a complaint to the Court of Justice of the European Union, where it accused Poland of failing to transpose into national legislation and bring into force all the necessary provisions required by the CAFE Directive. At the same time the European Commission filed a motion to impose a temporary financial penalty on Poland of EUR 71,521.38 a day. As Poland informed the European Commission that the Directive had been transposed, the Commission withdrew the complaint in case C-48/12. As a result, on 8 January 2013, the President of the Court ordered that the case be removed from the register. Moreover, the European Commission decided to institute infringement proceedings with regard to the zones where limit values for PM10 were exceeded and for which derogations were not granted due to the Commission’s reservations with respect to the notifications submitted by Poland. The proceedings were initiated on the basis of Article 258 or 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (former Article 226 and 228 of the TEC) and are in progress (infringement No 2008/2199
On 10 December 2015 EU Comission decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU over persistently high levels of dust particles that risk public health. The daily limit values for PM10 have been exceeded in 35 out of 46 air quality zones since years. Additionally, in nine zones the annual limit values als have been exceeded. The PM10 pollution is predominantly caused by household heating. This step follows an additional reasoned opinion which was sent to Poland in February 2015.
COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGES
In 2015 a resident of one of the most polluted cities in Śląskie voivodship, supported by the Frank Bold Foundation, submitted a lawsuit against the State Treasury claiming compensation for violation of his personal rights caused by high levels of air pollution. The plaintiff claims that Polish state authorities, including the Ministry of Environment failed to fulfil their obligation to ensure compliance with air quality standards stipulated by both EU and national law. Extreme levels of air pollution affect not only his health, but also his freedom of movement as well as his home and family life. The case is still being considered by the court of first instance, the judgment is expected in the first half of 2018.
CHALLENGING AIR QUALITY PLANS
In 2015 a resident of a heavily polluted town in southern Malopolskie voivodship and an anti-smog activist, supported by the Frank Bold Foundation, submitted a complaint against the voivodship air quality plan, claiming that the measures included therein were insufficient to cause a significant improvement of the air quality in the region. Both the Regional Administrative Court in Krakow and the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the complaint on the grounds of lack of sufficient legal standing. Both judgments were based on the provision of Polish law stipulating that a resolution of regional government can by challenged to the court only if it directly violates the complainant’s legal interest. It is impossible to fulfil such condition in case of an air quality plan, where the legal interest is infringed by the air pollution, not the plan itself. Subsequently, a complaint to the Constitutional Court was submitted against the provision prohibiting citizens to challenge air quality plans. After the initial control the case was accepted for consideration by the Constitutional Court, the judgment is expected no earlier than in late 2018. However, the complaint against the air quality plan helped to impose additional pressure on the regional authorities and a new, significantly improved air quality plan was adopted in 2017, together with a so called anti-smog resolution imposing limitations on the use of solid fuels in the Region.