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Clean Air Dialogue

The European Commission’s 2013 Clean Air Programme for Europe sets out a roadmap for air pollution action across the Community over the next decade and beyond. It also states the Commission's intent to enhance the means for exchanging best practice both at EU and national level to facilitate achieving the headline objectives of the strategy. In 2015, the Commission proposed, in an orientation paper for the Ambient Air Quality Expert Group, setting up bilateral structured Clean Air Country Dialogues to help foster the collaborative approach required to deliver actions for enhancing air quality and reducing air pollution in the future.

While the EU has a uniform legislative regime for tackling air pollution, the ways in which that is implemented varies greatly between Member States. This raises the need for a supportive and collaborative programme of information exchange – a dialogue – aimed at better understanding the models of implementation, the differences between those models, their successes and challenges and, in time, which elements could be useful in other countries under good practice exchange. The dialogues could also raise awareness in Member States of the funding streams available through EU funds to support action on air pollution. Finally, they would offer the opportunity for Member States to discuss the future direction of EU clean air policies with the Commission.

The key objectives of these dialogues are the following:

  • To consult on Member States' main air quality challenges at national, regional, and local level and approaches for meeting the 2030 commitments to reduce pollutants emissions;
  • To understand the most effective and efficient policies and progress in their implementation, also for the purpose of promoting clean air policy in other sectoral areas and promoting best practice across the EU;
  • To explore potential further action for the country's most challenging air quality problems and, where possible and appropriate, explore scope for possible measures;
  • To inform and support the country's process of establishing enhanced National Air Pollution Control Programmes (i.e. in a NEC context);
  • To promote synergies and avoid policy tensions between air quality policies, climate and energy policies, transport policies, agricultural policies and other policies, as well as links with health policy;
  • To support the Member State in implementing air quality policies and measures, including ways to use funding opportunities at the EU level.

Also linked to the above is the potential to utilise a peer to peer approach in the context of the dialogues enabling Member States to share knowledge and potential solutions for common challenges.

In order to be successful, the dialogues should be based on a common set of principles:

  • The process should be open, supportive and operated on a voluntary basis, with ownership from both Member States and the Commission;
  • Dialogues should consider all levels of air pollution management (national, regional and local government and agencies), key stakeholders, and cross border issues;
  • The focus of the dialogue should be on how the future situation can be improved;
  • The scope should be consistent, but flexible in emphasis and structure to maximise the benefits of the dialogue for each Member State;

The Clean Air Dialogues are closely coordinated with the Environmental Implementation Review, which pursues the same objectives of improving implementation of EU environmental law and policy, addressing the causes of implementation gaps, and looking for solutions before problems become urgent.

EU Member States can contact the Commission if interested in a bilateral Clean Air Dialogue.

Links:

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with the Czech Republic that took place on 7-8 November 2018

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with Spain that took place on 8-9 October 2018

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with Slovakia that took place on 24-25 April 2018

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with Hungary that took place on 3-4 October 2017

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with Luxembourg that took place on 29-30 June 2017

- Shared conclusions from the Clean Air Dialogue with Ireland that took place on 1-2 March 2017