Mr Vella said: "The decision to refer Member States to the Court of Justice of the EU has been taken on behalf of Europeans".
The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said it made a decision to refer Hungary, Italy and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.
The European Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said the EU "owed it to its citizens", to take legal action.
The Commission said it is taking action to address the "significant and persistent exceedances of limit values" for two key pollutants, which have health impacts: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - mostly emitted from road traffic and industry - and particulate matter (PM10), which is mainly present in emissions from domestic heating, traffic, agriculture and industry.
Today's announcement should surprise no one, the countries being sent to the court have had too many final warnings", said European Environmental Bureau Air Quality Policy Officer Margherita Tolotto, who added that "it is essential to understand why some governments, but not others. have been sent to court today.
Environmentalists say toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year. While being most acute in London, illegal levels of air pollution is a problem across the UK.
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The government's own research shows clean air zones (CAZs), in which cars are deterred from city centres by pollution charges, are by far the most effective solution to air pollution.
"We will shortly build on our £3.5bn plan to tackle roadside emissions with a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy setting out a wide range of actions to reduce pollution from all sources". Spain, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic dodged that fate for now. The Commission should have made no exceptions and referred them all. If a Brexit deal is agreed, Britain will be in the transition period and. If it does not, the court can then impose large fines. But Vella also admitted that "legal action alone will not solve the problem".
It is unclear when the ECJ's jurisdiction over the UK's environmental concerns will end following Brexit. The Commission is also issuing additional letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom on the grounds that they have disregarded European Union vehicle type approval rules.
But he revealed last week that the United Kingdom environmental watchdog he proposes after Brexit would not have the automatic power to take the government to court.
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska underlined the role that Europe's vehicle industry has in fighting urban pollution.