EU Says Air in Athens Too Polluted, Wants More Controls

Αssociated Press

A general view of the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill on the background, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - Despite a plan that limits how many cars can enter the downtown of Athens, the European Commission said more control over air pollution is needed and sent a warning notice to the government over its failure to have a national plan.

That's been going on for years without any government coming up with an acceptable scheme beyond cars with odd and even numbered license plates alternating when they can come into restricted areas of the nation's capital.

The 27 EU member states are under directives to draw up and implement programs to limit their annual emissions. They had until April 1, 2019 to present the plan but many failed to meet that deadline and now could face action.

“Despite previous reminders, Greece, Malta and Romania have until now failed to meet their obligations,” the Commission said in a press release, adding that Greece hasn't curbed high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the Attica region for more than a decade.

“We will examine the Commission’s suggestions and comply,” the Environment Ministry’s General Secretary for the Natural Environment Konstantinos Aravosis told Kathimerini.

“At times, we have had major exceedances in the values of microparticles, which are associated either with (the use of) fireplaces or with sand [carried by the wind] from Africa. At any case, we will examine what has happened and respond to the Commission,” he added.

Greece has two months to reply and present its national program but the commission didn't say what would happen if that deadline is missed.