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Sustainable and responsible business

Air quality policy

Since the 1970s the European Union has developed numerous instruments to improve air quality covering the control of emissions from different sources such as cars and stationary installations, measures to improve fuel quality and to prevent ozone depletion.

Key EC air quality directives regulating industrial emissions to air include:

  • Air Quality Framework Directive
  • Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive
  • National Emissions Ceilings Directive
  • Large Combustion Plant Directive
  • Waste Incineration Plants Directive
  • Volatile Organic Compounds Directive
  • Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels Directive

For details on the Directives, please see the following website dedicated to environmental policies.

Overall air quality trends in the Community are encouraging. This is partly due to the implementation of EC air quality legislation, and partly due to the response of the manufacturing industry itself to improve its environmental performance by developing new technologies, improving management practices, and greater investment in pollution prevention technologies.

A significant decoupling has been achieved, of economic growth in manufacturing from intensified environmental impact on air quality, over last two decades, particularly in the case of acidifying gases, following the implementation of the Large Combustion Plant Directive.

Clean Air for Europe Programme and the Thematic Strategy on Air

The 6th Environment Action Programme "Environment 2010: our future, our Choice" includes Environment and Health as one of the four priority areas where more effort is needed. The focus for the next ten years will be the implementation of air quality standards and, importantly for business, coherency of all air legislation and related policy initiatives.

The task of the Clean Air for Europe Programme (CAFE) has been to carry out the technical analysis and policy development leading to the adoption of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution in 2005.

This strategy seeks to put forward policy measures to protect human health and the environment against air pollution. Its analysis of up-to-date scientific and technical data and comparison of costs and benefits has been used as a main basis for the Commission proposals for a revised Directive on Ambient Air Quality and the Directive on Industrial Emissions. The upcoming proposal for a revised Directive on National Emissions Ceilings will also build on the CAFE programme.

DG Enterprise B.1 has intensely participated in the work of the CAFE and in the development of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution, in particular to help assess the economic feasibility of the future environment air quality standards, the possible effects on the competitiveness of European industry, and to seek the best options to secure air quality improvements cost-effectively.

DG Enterprise B.1 continues to participate in the elaboration of Commission proposals in this area, such as the Directive on National Emissions Ceilings, and to ensure consistency with the Commissions Better Regulation and Simplification initiatives.

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