In 2019, the Court of Justice found that France had “systematically and persistently" exceeded the annual limit for nitrogen dioxide since 2010. In addition, France’s top administrative court last year fined President Emmanuel Macron's government a record 10 million euros for failing to reduce air pollution to acceptable levels.
Kokott considered that the conditions for state liability applied in this case, although establishing a “direct causal link" between the serious breach of the rules on air quality and specific damage to health might be difficult to prove.
The Advocate General also pointed out “that even if a direct link between a serious infringement of the limit values and damage to health were proved, the matter would not end there."
“Rather, the Member State may exonerate itself by proving that such exceedance of the limit values would also have occurred if it had adopted in good time air quality plans which satisfy the requirements of the directive." the court said in a press release.