EU Proposes New Ambient Air Quality Directive Under 2050 Cleaner Air and Water Package

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November 24, 20223E Global Research TeamBlog

On 26 October 2022 the European Commission announced a legislative package for achieving cleaner air and water in the EU by 2050. In particular, the commission communicated a draft Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe (recast). The text will merge two current directives (Directive 2004/107/EC Relating to Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, Nickel, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Ambient Air and Directive 2008/50/EC on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe) into one single legal act. Public consultation on the draft will be held until 23 December 2022.

3E Review 

Following the Fitness Check of the Ambient Air Quality Directives 2004/107/EC and 2008/50/EC, and two rounds of public consultation held in 2020 and 2021, the European Commission finally communicated the draft of a new Ambient Air Directive. The main goal is to ensure that, by 2050, air quality is so improved that pollution is no longer considered harmful to human health and the environment.

According to the text, the two Ambient Air Directives 2004/107/EC and 2008/50/EC will merge into one. Thus, the legal framework will be simplified, as relevant air pollutants will be regulated in one singe consolidated directive. In addition, the framework will also be modernized and aligned with the most recent World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines.

In particular, the current lower and upper threshold will be replaced by a single short-term and long-term (to be achieved by 2050) limit value in Annex I for the following pollutants: SO2, NO2, particulate matters (PM10 and PM2.5), lead, benzene, CO, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, benzo(a)pyrene, and ozone.

Other thresholds also were announced in draft Annexes I and II:

  • Critical levels for the protection of vegetation and natural ecosystems
  • Alert thresholds
  • Average exposure reduction and concentrations for NO2 and PM2.5
  • Assessment thresholds for health protection and the environment

Specific measurements also were announced in Article 10 and Annex VII, as they introduce monitoring of ultrafine particles (UFP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) at specific locations to gather information and better understand UFP concentrations and ozone formation.

3E Analysis

The proposal will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council in the ordinary legislative procedure. If adopted and published in the EU Official Journal, the recast of the Ambient Air Directives will enter into force within 20 days. Member states will have two years to enforce most of the requirements by transposing them into their national legislation.

Stakeholders may submit comments on the draft directive via the European Commission’s Have Your Say portal until 23 December 2022.