Members' Research Service By / April 5, 2023

Revision of EU air quality legislation: Setting a zero pollution objective for air [EU Legislation in Progress]

Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in the EU, causing chronic disease and premature mortality.

© Iakov Kalinin / Adobe Stock

Written by Vivienne Halleux (1st edition).

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, aims to adopt its legislative report before the end of June 2023.


Proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (recast)
Committee responsible:Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)COM(2022) 542
Rapporteur:Javi López (S&D, Spain)2022/0347(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Norbert Lins (EPP, Germany)
Karin Karlsbro (Renew, Sweden)
Michael Bloss (Greens/EFA, Germany)
Gianna Gancia (ID, Italy)
Anna Zalewska (ECR, Poland)
Petros Kokkalis (The Left, Greece)
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD)
(Parliament and Council on equal footing
– formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Vote in committee on draft report

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