Most of the concern is about emissions from diesel vehicles, which pump dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide into the air. The commission began pushing for the clean-up in 2015.
Around 400,000 people die prematurely every year across the bloc because of pollutants they breathe, according to the EU's executive.
Germany is especially concerned because so many of its municipalities suffer from poor air and so many of its carmakers — a key part of the German economy — rely heavily on building diesel cars.
Besides Germany, plans presented earlier this year by France, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Britain to tackle air pollution are "not sufficient to comply with air quality standards as soon as possible," said EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.
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