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Implementation of ambient air quality legislation

AirThis webpage deals with different aspects of the implementation of the Air Quality Directives and provides an overview of the relevant documents. Main aspects of implementation can be described through the following elements:

  • Zones and agglomerations are declared by the Member States, covering the complete territory. The zones represent basic areas for which assessment and management provisions are prescribed.
  • Assessment of ambient air quality through monitoring, modelling, and objective estimation provides information on the compliance with the environmental standards and informs further air pollution abatement effort. The assessment covers the minimum assessment requirements set in the directive as well as the additional assessment performed by the Member State such as source apportionment, in particular in agglomerations and areas with high pollution.
  • Management  of air pollution: in order to reduce adverse effects of air pollution on health and environment, measures need to be taken. A number of measures are taken at the Community level, such as fuel quality and product standards (for example EURO standards for new vehicles). In certain areas it is necessary for Member States to take further measures to comply with the legislation. These air pollution reduction measures are compiled in air quality plans or programmes which describe how the measures are bringing concentrations below respective limit or target values by the attainment date.
  • Public information: Requirements contain minimum amount of information that needs to be provided to the public as regards to assessment of concentrations. It also requires the public availability of abatement plans and programmes. Specific actions are needed when information and alert thresholds are exceeded, which inform the public on the health hazards and the recommended personal behaviour to minimize exposure.
  • Reporting  of assessment results and the information on the plans and programmes is required to enable the Commission to assess compliance with the provisions of the directives, as well as to provide the Commission, the Member States, other stakeholders such as the European Environment Agency as well as the public with harmonized information on assessment and management of air quality.
  • Time extensions: three years (PM10) or up to five years (NO2, benzene) for complying with limit values, based on conditions and the assessment by the European Commission.
  • Exceedances of limit values for public health: a list of Air Quality zones in which exceedances of PM10 and NO2 have been reported for the year 2011 including the results of the request of time extension notification, where applicable, is presented here: PM10, NO2. The list has been created for information purposes and does not represent an official assessment of the Commission services. Please refer to the Commission Decisions published here and questionnaire 461 that contains the Member States' report of air quality data for accurate information.

The existing legislation is periodically being reviewed, providing opportunities to further develop legislation. Reviews are subject to the Comitology procedure as required in the legislation.

The first Daughter Directive has been reviewed in accordance to Article 10 of the Directive. The Commission prepared a Review Report of Council Directive 1999/30/EC (pdf ~125K) which was adopted in January 2005. The report is accompanied by a Staff Working Document (pdf ~195K) in support of the review of Council Directive 1999/30/EC, providing some more details. The Working Group on Implementation provided a report with Recommendations on the review of Council Directive 1999/30/EC (pdf~353K).