Image: alexander blum / with kind permission
Commissioner vella threatens legal action; german courts doubt political will and urge driving bans; commentaries fear government crisis
Bavaria’s environment minister scharf does not have to go to jail, which no one seriously expected either.
But scharf was ruffled by the presiding judge of the administrative court in munich in a way that politicians rarely get to expect with such clarity. The bavarian government also protested today, tuesday, against the judge’s formulations.
The hearing was about air pollution and car emissions and about the political will of the bavarian government to take effective measures to ensure good air quality.
"Larifari" and "alibi planning"
Judge martina scherl was unusually clear in her rebuke of the concept that the government was supposed to present by the end of 2017 following a decision by the bavarian administrative court (vgh) as a "insubstantial" off:
I think you misjudge the seriousness of the situation. With this general blah-blah in the draft of the clean air plan they do not meet the requirements of the court.
Martina scherl, presiding judge
Scherl spoke of an "half larifari page", a "alibi planning" and imposed a fine on the csu government in munich because, despite the pollution in the city and despite the above-mentioned order of the administrative court, it still has no "prepared for possible driving bans" have.
By the way, the german environmental aid is named as the plaintiff. The spectre of all those who fear driving bans. The environmental aid stays on the hard track.
She applied for compulsory detention for the minister of environment scharf, "because the free state repeatedly disregards court orders". However, according to the judge, there is no legal basis for this. It imposed a rather low fine in the amount of 4.000 euros that the bavarian ministry of the environment has to pay to the ministry of the interior. So there remains in the coffers of the bavarian government.
Driving bans on the horizon
The tone is clearly sharper, more impatient, but the accent is still on the pedagogical moment, drastic measures are put on the horizon, but not yet implemented "morality" summarize the episode.
It also fits in with the visit of german environment minister barbara hendricks to brussels this morning, where she was supposed to tell eu environment commissioner karmenu vella – along with eight other environment ministers – what measures the german government plans to take to comply with eu limits in the future.
According to ngos quoted by deutsche welle, german government lacks political will to plan decisive changes. Bose tongues claim that the german government, which is known to have close ties to the auto industry, has simply been stalling, doing little and waiting.
However, if ferdinand dudenhoffer of the car institute at the university of duisburg-essen has his way, then – political will or no political will – something decisive could soon happen for diesel drivers. Dudenhoffer expects driving bans in ten cities munich, stuttgart, koln, reutlingen, hamburg, heilbronn, kiel, dusseldorf, darmstadt and ludwigsburg.
Eu: deadline by "end of next week"
Eu environment commissioner karmenu vella threatens germany and eight other countries, france, spain, italy, the uk, romania, hungary, the czech republic and slovakia, with legal action for failing to meet eu limits. They are facing infringement proceedings for frequently exceeding eu limits for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
In his press statement, vella reiterated that air pollution has serious consequences on the lives of eu citizens.
Every year, the lives of a staggering number of eu burgers are cut short due to air pollution. We’ve known this for decades, and that’s how long the limits have been in place. And yet until today, until 2018, every year 400 die.000 people prematurely because this massive, widespread problem is not being properly addressed. And many suffer unnecessarily from air pollution related diseases
karmenu vella, press release
By "end of next week" vella set a deadline for germany and the other eight eu member states to take effective action. Only steps that "without any delay" to comply with air purity limits, could still prevent a lawsuit brussels before the european court of justice (ecj), is quoted vella.
According to tagesschau, the managing environment minister hendricks admitted that germany had a traffic problem, but at the same time praised the progress that had already been made and showed herself still determined to avoid diesel driving bans – according to a commentary in the welt, such bans could turn into a "government crisis" grow out.