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Reduction of National Emissions

Reduction of national emissions of atmospheric pollutants

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. The National Emission reduction Commitments Directive (NEC Directive) together with the Ambient Air Quality Directives, and the source legislation provide the legal framework for the EU's air policy.

Commission 2020 implementation report on the NEC Directive (NEW)

On 26 June 2020, the Commission adopted its report to the European Parliament and the Council on the progress made on the implementation of Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants.

This report presents the state of play of implementation on all aspects of the NEC Directive, from air pollutant emissions inventories to ecosystems impacts monitoring. A large part of the report is devoted to the analysis of the National Air Pollution Control Programmes that Member States had to submit by 1 April 2019. More information on this report can be found in the press release and on the web-pages devoted to the main NEC requirements (see menu to the left).

EU legislation

From 2011 to 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 for Europe is Directive 2016/2284 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 lead to significant negative impacts on human health and the environment. More information is available here.

Directive (EU) 2016/2284, the National Emission reduction Commitments Directive (NEC Directive), repeals Directive 2001/81/EC as from 1 July 2018 while ensuring that the emission ceilings applicable as from 2010 set in that Directive applied until 2020. Directive (EU) 2016/2284 also transposes the reduction commitments for 2020 taken by the EU and its Member States at international level under the revised Gothenburg Protocol (see below) and sets more ambitious emission reduction commitments as from 2030 so as to cut the health impacts of air pollution by half compared with 2005.

Reduction of national emissions of atmospheric pollutants