Appeal against the suspension of Madrid Central for violating fundamental rights, admitted for processing by judge

The International Institute for Law and the Environment, together with residents of the city of Madrid, living in the ZBE Madrid Central, filed an appeal on July 15 against the Agreement of the Madrid City Council for violating fundamental rights contained in the Constitution, specifically the right to physical integrity (art. 15 EC) and the right to privacy and inviolability of home (art. 18), as poor air quality affects these rights. It also contravenes other regulations of different kinds: local law, such as the Municipal Ordinance on Sustainable Mobility; national law, such as art. 45 of the Constitution, which establishes the right to enjoy a healthy environment; and European Law, specifically the Air Quality Directive, which in addition to requiring Member States to take anti-pollution measures such as Madrid Central, compels them to establish dissuasive sanctions against their infringement. Similarly, this Directive sets the principle of non-regression that prevents administrations from making less strict air quality regulations, standards or policies.

This appeal has been admitted for processing by a contentious-administrative judge in Madrid just the day before the European Commission sued Spain before the EU Court of Justice for failing to comply with the Air Quality Directive.

Together with IIDMA, the residents of Madrid Central consider that the measure affects their fundamental rights under the Constitution. For this reason, a special procedure for the protection of fundamental rights has been filed, which must be dealt with urgently, in accordance with the legislation on contentious-administrative matters.

The responsibility of governments to protect the fundamental rights linked to air quality and pollution has been pointed out, among others, by the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment of the United Nations and by the European Court of Human Rights, which consider atmospheric pollution and other environmental damages as one of the main current threats to human rights.

The violation of the fundamental right to physical integrity is linked to the right to health. Different judgements recognize that the right to personal health is included in the right to personal integrity. And as the European Court of Human Rights has pointed out, the existence of a risk by action or omission of public authorities is enough for the right to be affected.

 “We consider that the Agreement of the Madrid City Council is null and void for violating fundamental rights. The cautionary suspension, although positive, is still not enough” says Ana Barreira, Director of IIDMA.

 “The reversal of Madrid Central would mean that the Administration is failing in its most important function, which is to protect the rights of citizens. It is also a regressive measure, which would place Madrid far from the objectives of sustainability and urbanism to which large European cities are directed” says one of the plaintiff neighbors, G.M.J.

“The quality of the air we breathe has a direct impact on our health, causing premature deaths or respiratory and heart diseases. We ask that policy makers protect the human rights of the citizens of Madrid such as life, health or physical integrity from the impacts of pollution” adds A.M.V, another of the plaintiffs.


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