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The European Union has a target in the 7th Environment Action Programme to significantly decrease noise pollution, moving closer to World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels. EU legislation to assess and manage environmental noise – the Environmental Noise Directive – aims to achieve a common approach towards managing environmental noise, and to assess the dimension of the issue. Under the Directive, EU Member States have to map noise and draw up action plans to mitigate its negative effects.


The European Commission organised a conference on "Noise in Europe" to raise awareness on the negative impacts of noise from transport on human health.

At the Conference, the WHO representative confirmed that noise remains a serious threat to human health, causing cardiovascular diseases, including ischaemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes, sleep disturbance, annoyance (stress) and cognitive impairment of children. The WHO is in the final stage of the revision of its guidelines and recommendations on maximum noise levels to protect against all serious adverse health effects.

The recent exposure data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) demonstrate that more than 100 million European citizens are affected by high noise levels negatively impacting human health.

The recent evaluation under the Commissions' REFIT Programme has shown that the Directive is generally fit for purpose, but needs to be better implemented. The Commission will support EU Member States in this, for instance through the Environmental Implementation Review. Involvement of stakeholders will be key when further reflecting on several aspects of the EU noise policy identified during the evaluation and the conference, such as:

  1. to possibly increase the ambition of the Directive and/or of the associated legislation addressing noise at source, including the possible introduction of concrete targets at EU level through binding science-based limit/target values;
  2. to broaden the scope of the Directive beyond transport and industry sources;
  3. to lower the thresholds for noise mapping, currently excluding significant sources of noise (i.e. below 55 Lden and 50 Lnight) and;
  4. to further clarify some definitions (such as "Quiet Areas", "Agglomerations", "Harmful effects”).

Public funding for noise reduction measures - covering the full life cycle costs - was considered to be important. Also, costs have to be internalised, respecting the polluter pays principle and thus ensuring a level playing field. Clear public procurement rules are crucial.

Increased stringency of EU at source standards needs to be balanced against other effective measures such as road surface improvements and urban planning measures. Interconnections between noise and urban planning actions should be enhanced.

End-of-pipe measures such as operating restrictions (mainly during the night) should - according to transport sector representatives - be avoided, while at the same time citizens claim that sleep at night has to be respected.

You can find more information in the speakers presentations and watch the conference sessions:

Opening speech - Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Opening speech - Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport

Images and videos


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  • 24 April: 09.00 - 11.15 (Europe/Luxembourg)

    Keynote introductions

    1. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
    2. Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport

    Keynote speeches and reactions

    • Daniel Calleja, Director General, European Commission – DG Environment
    • Zsuzsanna Jakab, Regional Director for Europe, World Health Organisation (WHO)
    • Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director, European Environment Agency (EEA)
    • John Ryan, Director, European Commission – DG Health and Food Safety
    • Merja Kyllönen, MEP


    • Daniel Calleja, Director General, European Commission – DG Environment
  • 24 April: 11.30 - 13.00

    The perspective of Member States

    • Peter Knitsch, State Secretary, Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • Dr. Željko Plazonić, State Secretary, Ministry of Health, Croatia
    • Cédric Bourillet, Chef de Service, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Énergie et de la Mer, France
    • Gertrud Sahler, Head of Department,  German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany
    • Mag. Ingrid Felipe Saint Hilaire, Deputy Governor, Tyrol,  Austria
    • Kadri-Piibe Luik, Chief specialist, Estonian Road Administration, Estonia
    • Neil Kerr, Deputy Permanent Representative of Malta to the European Union, Ministry for European Affairs, Malta


    • Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General, European Commission – DG Environment
  • 24 April: 14.00 - 16.00

    Parallel session 1: Ideas for policy options

    • Libor Lochman, Executive Director, Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER)
    • Olivier Jankovec, Director General, European region of Airports Council International  (ACI-Europe)
    • William Todts, Executive Director, Transport & Environment (T&E)
    • Dominique Lazarski, President, European Association Against Aircraft Nuisances (UECNA)
    • Filipe Araújo,  Councilor for Innovation and Environment of Porto, Representative of EUROCITIES
    • Alfred J. Kloos, Technical Affairs Director, European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA)


    • Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environment Bureau (EEB)
  • 24 April: 14.00 - 16.00

    Parallel session 2: Evidence of health effects of noise

    • Elizabet Paunovic, Head of Bonn Office, World Health Organisation (WHO)
    • Roberta Savli, Deputy-Director, Health and Environment Alliance
    • Stephen Stansfeld, Professor, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine - Queen Mary University, London
    • Göran Pershagen, Head of Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
    • Rainer Guski, Professor, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum


    • Brigitte Schulte Fortkamp, Professor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Transport Systems, TU Berlin
  • 24 April: 14.00 - 16.00

    Parallel session 3: Strategy for effective noise control

    • Steve Phillips, Secretary-General, Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR)
    • Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General, International Railway Federation (UIC)
    • Giuseppe Pagnano, Head of Unit, Coordinating Project Officer, CleanSky2 Joint Undertaking
    • Giovanni Brero, President, European Noise Barriers Federation (ENBF)
    • Sergio Luzzi, President, VIENROSE


    • Jorge Patrício, President, European Acoustic Association (EAA)
  • 24 April: 16.20 - 16.40

    Plenary session with feedback from each parallel session

    • Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General, European Commission – DG Environment

Practical information

24 April 2017, 9.00 - 16.40 (CEST)