Update 02 02 2023 see further analysis by Mario Pagano here.
A disappointing judgment was issued just before end of year 2022, when the Court, unlike its Advocate General Kokott, held that the ambient air quality Directives do not directly grant a right to compensation in the event of an infringement of the limit values.
In Case C-61/21 Ministre de la Transition écologique and Premier ministre, the CJEU essentially insisted ‘Frankovich’ liability (the power for individuals to claim compensation, on the basis of EU law, of EU Member States when the latter fail properly to implement EU law; Such liability is subject to three conditions: namely that the rule of EU law infringed is intended to confer rights on them, that the infringement of that rule is sufficiently serious and that there is a direct causal link between that infringement and the damage suffered by those individuals) can only be extended to cases where the EU secondary law at issue, grants individual rights.
The Court held however that even though  the air quality Directives impose clear and precise duties which the Member States need to achieve, these are aimed at protecting the environment and public health as a whole, not individuals’ right to health and environmental protection .
Some might see in this reasoning a strict schism suggested by the Court between the collective enjoyment of public health and a healthy environment on the one hand, and the individual availability of same. I do not think though that this is what the Court had in mind, rather, one assumes, an ambition to cap the amount of cases that might otherwise reach the CJEU.
The Court then directs individuals to the national level, so as to obtain if necessary a court order forcing the authorities to draw up relevant plans (a route confirmed by Case C‑404/13 Client Earth) and it of course confirms that national law may be more generous .
The unfortunate consequence of the judgment is that there will not be a level playing field for individuals when it comes to employing the right to compensation for infringement of EU law, and of course an encouragement of a certain amount of forum shopping.