The European Commission has referred the United Kingdom to the European Court of Justice after being being suspicious of attempts come up to speed with policies, despite an extension - alongside France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Romania.
"Everyone in Europe has the same right to clean air, and when national governments fail to deliver EU protections, it's perfectly prudent for the European Commission to step in and protect us from the air we breathe".
The Court of Justice ruled on Thursday (22 February) that Poland has infringed air quality laws, urging Warsaw to comply "without delay" or face fines after finding that the country has regularly exceeded fine particle limits for years. "We will shortly build on our £3.5bn plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive clean air strategy".
Three "pillars" of air quality improvement have been pegged by the Commission: setting out air quality standards, targets for reducing emissions and emissions standards for pollution sources.More news: RJD to meet Bihar governor on Friday, stake claim to form govt
Vella had also given Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia a last chance in January to start complying with European Union standards and made a decision to give them a reprieve.
Environmentalists say toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year.
The EU limit is 40 micrograms. Of the measurements cited in the referral, the UK's recorded NOx concentrations of 102µg/m3 in London were the highest of the offending countries. The problem was declared a public health emergency by a cross-party committee of MPs in 2016.
He said the member states being taken to court had been repeatedly warned to clean up pollution as soon as possible.
The Luxembourg-based court can impose heavy fines.More news: Congress petitions Supreme Court for urgent hearing
But Tolotto said the process behind legal action should be "far more transparent" to allow citizens to know why some countries were taken to court and others not.
The Frenchman said there could be no reduction in environmental standards after Brexit as Britain could otherwise seek a "competitive advantage" over its neighbours.
Also on Thursday, in the continuing fall-out from the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, the European commission issued renewed warnings to the UK, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg over their alleged failure to "have effective and dissuasive penalty systems in place to deter vehicle manufacturers from breaking the law".
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, industry commissioner said: "We will only succeed in fighting urban air pollution if the auto sector plays its part".More news: Italy's 5-Star, League rattle markets in bid to clinch government deal