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

Briefing 08-09-2023

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 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 the Word Health Organization's 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 have had mixed reactions to the proposal. NGOs call for full alignment with the WHO guidelines by 2030 at the latest, and for penalties in case the 2030 deadline is missed. Industry representatives insist on the need to meet current standards first, before aiming for higher ones. In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), responsible for the file, adopted its report on 27 June 2023. The report, which raises the level of ambition of the proposal, awaits a vote in plenary during September. If adopted, it will form Parliament's position for future negotiations with the Council, which has yet to agree on a general approach. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.