Revision of EU air quality legislation: Setting a zero pollution objective for air

Briefing 19-04-2024

Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in the EU and causes significant damage to ecosystems. As part of the European Green Deal's zero pollution ambition, on 26 October 2022 the European Commission tabled a proposal for a revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives. The proposed directive would set air quality standards for 2030 that are more closely aligned with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, as updated in 2021. It would also include a mechanism for the standards' regular review based on the latest scientific information. To achieve them on time, the Member States would have to establish air quality plans ahead of 2030. Provisions on air quality monitoring and assessment would be updated, including through new requirements for monitoring pollutants of emerging concern, such as ultrafine particles. Stakeholders' reactions to the proposal have been mixed. Non-governmental organisations call for full alignment with the WHO guidelines by 2030 at the latest, and for penalties if the 2030 deadline is missed. Industry representatives insist on the need to meet current standards first, before aiming for higher ones. The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the file on 20 February 2024. The text, approved in March by Member States representatives in the Council and by Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, now requires formal adoption by the co-legislators. Parliament is expected to vote on the final text during its second April 2024 part-session. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.