German courts must consider prison sentences for air pollution failures
The EU’s top court has detailed how German authorities’ direct refusal to follow court orders on air pollution is a clear breach of the rule of law and of fundamental rights, in a crushing ruling issued today.
The court sent the question of potential custodial sentences for ministers back to German court officials but made it clear they must be considered.
In its final judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said that failure of authorities to act in this case is all the more serious because it “endangers human health.” Alongside the discussion of prison sentences, it endorsed other strong sanctions, including higher and repeated fines for the authority in question.
The case is the result of ongoing legal action in Germany over urban air pollution by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and environmental lawyers ClientEarth.
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