Air pollution travels over long distances and over national boundaries having a negative impact on human health. In order to limit air pollution, which is also responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution, the EU has policies in place limiting individual sources but also national totals of atmospheric emissions of the key pollutants. Together with the Ambient Air Quality Directives the National Emission Ceilings Directives and the source legislation underpinning them provide the legal framework for the EU's air policy.
In 2011-2013 the Commission conducted a review of the EU air policy which resulted in the adoption of the Clean Air Policy Package. As part of the package, the Commission proposed a Clean Air Programme for Europe, updating the 2005 Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution in order to set new objectives for EU air policy for 2020 and 2030.
The main legislative instrument to achieve the 2030 objectives of the Clean Air Programme is Directive 2016/2284/EU on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants which entered into force on 31 December 2016. This Directive sets national reduction commitments for the five pollutants (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and fine particulate matter) responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution which leads to significant negative impacts on human health and the environment. More information is available here.
The new Directive repeals and replaces Directive 2001/81/EC, the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive) from the date of its transposition (30 June 2018) ensuring that the emission ceilings for 2010 set in that Directive shall apply until 2020. Directive 2016/2284 also transposes the reduction commitments for 2020 taken by the EU and its Member States under the revised Gothenburg Protocol (see below) and sets more ambitious reduction commitments for 2030 so as to cut the health impacts of air pollution by half compared with 2005.