Proposal for a Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (recast)

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2022) 542
Publication Date 26/10/2022
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Legislative initiative - tabled by the European Commission on 26 October 2022 - recasting the legislative framework concerning air quality in the European Union (EU).

Further information:

Clean air is essential to human health and sustaining the environment. While major improvements in air quality have been achieved in the EU over three decades, there is still significant impact of air pollution on health and the environment.

In November 2019, the European Commission published its Fitness Check of Directive 2004/107/EC and Directive 2008/50/EC which focus on air quality. It concluded that the Directives were partially effective in improving air quality and achieving air quality standards, but that not all their objectives had been met to date. In December 2019, in its European Green Deal, the Commission committed to further improving air quality and to aligning EU air quality standards more closely with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This commitment was confirmed in the Zero Pollution Action Plan of 2021. Targets were introduced for 2030 and 2050, and air quality standards were also included in the Commission's Europe's Beating Cancer Plan.

The Ambient Air Quality Directives (AAQD) are part of a comprehensive clean air policy framework built on three main pillars. The first consists of the Directives themselves, while the second is the NEC Directive. The third pillar consists of legislation setting emissions standards for key sources of air pollution. The revision of the AAQD would merge the Directives into one, and seek to:

  • align EU air quality standards more closely with WHO recommendations;
  • further improve the legislative framework;
  • better support local authorities in achieving cleaner air through strengthening air quality monitoring, modelling and plans.

The draft law was adopted by the European Commission on 26 October 2022 as part of a so-called Zero Pollution Package of legislative initiatives.

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Commentary and Analysis
European Environment Bureau (EBB): News, 26/10/2022: Air pollution law revision can be a game changer for zero-pollution ambition
Transport&Environment: News, 28/10/2022: EU’s new air pollution limits a big step forward but fall short of WHO guidelines

Politico, 25/10/2022: Leader or laggard: EU struggles with ‘zero pollution’ ambition
Deutsche Welle, 26/10/2022: EU set to tighten rules on deadly air pollution
The Guardian, 26/10/2022: EU plans tighter controls on pollution as doctors call for urgent action
Associated Press (AP News), 26/10/2022: EU Commission proposes tougher pollution rules
Le Monde, 26/10/2022: Air pollution: European Commission proposes new standards less strict than the WHO's
Euronews, 26/10/2022: New pollution plans must bring EU closer to WHO air quality rules by 2030, says Commissioner
Bloomberg, 26/10/2022: EU Targets ‘Zero Pollution’ by 2050 to Curb Premature Deaths
RFI News, 26/10/2022: EU to drastically reduce deadly air pollution with tougher laws
Reuters, 26/10/2022: EU targets deadly air pollution, pushes for cleaner water
France24, 26/10/2022: EU to crack down on air pollution with tougher laws
ERR News: Opinion [by Virginius Sinkevicius, EU Commissioner for the Environment], 26/10/2022: Air pollution a matter of life and death
EUObserver, 26/10/2022: EU proposes stricter rules against air and water pollution
Politico, 26/10/2022: Brussels sets out tighter EU air quality rules
EurActiv, 27/10/2022: EU lays out plan for ‘zero pollution’ in air and water by 2050

EUR-LEX: SWD(2022)345: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Executive Summary of the Impact Assessment Report
EUR-LEX: SWD(2022)542: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Subsidiarity Grid
EUR-LEX: SWD(2022)545: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Impact Assessment Report
European Commission: DG Environment: Topics: Air
European Environment Agency (EU EEA): Topics: Air pollution
European Commission: Press Release, 26/10/2022: European Green Deal: Commission proposes rules for cleaner air and water
European Commission: Questions and Answers on New Air Quality Rules (26 October 2022)
European Commission: Executive Vice-President Timmermans' and Commissioner Sinkevičius' remarks on the new legislative proposals: the Zero Pollution Package (26 October 2022)
Greens/EFA EP Group: Press Release, 26/10/2022: Commission's plans for clean air in inadequate

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