Updated Feb 21, 2024

Log in →

EU Commission welcomes provisional agreement for cleaner air

The European Commission has welcomed the provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive.

Once adopted the new law will set 2030 EU air quality standards aligned more closely with the WHO global air quality guidelines, which is an important step to better protect our health and move forward on the path to zero pollution in our environment by 2050.


On 26 October 2022, the Commission adopted the proposal for a revised Ambient Air Quality Directive. This is a key advance for the European Green Deal's zero-pollution ambition of having a zero-pollution environment by 2050.

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to health and a leading cause of chronic diseases, including stroke, cancer and diabetes. It disproportionately affects sensitive and vulnerable social groups.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, commented: "This agreement represents a milestone for zero pollution, a cleaner and healthier Europe. The revised law puts in place the standards and the trajectory we need to protect our health and the environment from polluted air. This will especially benefit vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, and bring us closer to our target: a Europe where pollution is an issue of the past and clean air our future reality".

Cleaner ambient by 2030

Under the proposed Ambient Air Quality Directive, the annual limit value for the main pollutant, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is cut by more than half. A regular review of the air quality standards to reassess them, in line with the latest scientific evidence as well as societal and technological developments, will help put the EU on a trajectory to achieve zero pollution for air at the latest by 2050, in synergy with climate-neutrality efforts.

National and local authorities will determine the specific measures they would take to meet the standards. At the same time, existing and new EU policies in environment, energy, transport, agriculture, research and innovation, and other fields will make a significant contribution.

The revision will ensure that people suffering from health damages due to air pollution have the right to be compensated in the case of a violation of EU air quality rules. It will also bring more clarity on access to justice, effective penalties, and better public information on air quality. It will also support local authorities by strengthening the provisions on air quality monitoring and modelling, and help improve air quality plans.

The improved rules on air quality monitoring and modelling will make it possible to check compliance more closely with standards, and support more efficient and effective action to prevent and address breaches of standards.

The proposed Directive will also ensure early action to achieve cleaner air. If air pollution levels are higher than the new 2030 standards over the coming years, Member States will need to analyse whether they are on track to comply with the legislation in time, and, if needed, take measures and ensure compliance in 2030.

Under specific circumstances, Member States may get more time to achieve the new standards. Justifications for such time extensions must be based on sound analysis.

What's next?

Member States will need to take appropriate measures to ensure they respect air quality standards as soon as possible.

The European Parliament and Council will now formally have to adopt the revised Directive before it can enter into force. It will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

For more information on this subject, see:

View all stories