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News article18 February 2021Directorate-General for Environment2 min read

Clean Air Dialogue between the Commission and the Netherlands to promote cleaner air

On 17 and 18 February, the Commission is holding a Clean Air Dialogue with the Netherlands to promote actions to improve air quality and reduce air pollution in the country. This bilateral dialogue focuses on the main challenges faced by the Netherlands, such as emissions from residential heating, transport and agriculture. Special emphasis is being placed on collaboration between the public and private sector, as well as the role of cities and local and regional authorities – including green public procurement, green urban planning and other green policies.

While emissions of several air pollutants have decreased in the Netherlands since the 1990s, air pollution still gives cause for concern and has a significant impact on the health of citizens. The European Environment Agency estimates that around 9 900 premature deaths per year in the Netherlands are linked to air pollution. The Netherlands also faces other challenges, especially regarding the reduction of ammonia and nitrogen pollution from agriculture. Since 2013, ammonia emissions have been increasing rather than decreasing in the Netherlands.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, who is taking part in the Dialogue, said:

Further reducing air pollution in the Netherlands, and across Europe, would improve quality of live, decrease premature deaths from respiratory diseases and reduce pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity. It also makes economic sense. This is the approach we are taking with our Zero Pollution ambition set in the European Green Deal. Events such as this Clean Air Dialogue are important, as they improve collaboration and create the opportunity for cross-sector and cross-level discussions and exchanges.

This Clean Air Dialogue gathers the Dutch authorities, European Commission representatives and over 200 stakeholders in a structured discussion. The aim is to bring together stakeholders for open and solution-oriented discussions on how to achieve cleaner air in the Netherlands, and also in neighbouring countries affected by its air pollution emissions. This format allows for a constructive dialogue especially with local and regional representatives. Synergies are promoted across different policy areas: including air quality, climate and energy, transport, agriculture and health. This is the first ever fully virtual Clean Air dialogue.

The main messages from the sessions will be compiled in a set of Joint Conclusions, and will be made available here in due course. These will support the continued Dutch authorities’ efforts and commitments for cleaner air.

Since 2016, seven Clean Air Dialogues have taken place: in Ireland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic and Italy. Clean Air Dialogues are voluntary, and Member States can contact the Commission if they are interested in organising one.


Recent reports show that despite some successes in curbing air pollution, Member States have not succeeded in reducing significantly the high number of premature deaths from air pollution in the EU (around 400,000 in 2018).

The EU already has comprehensive uniform legislation in place to tackle air pollution, and the Commission follows the implementation of these pieces of legislation closely, including with infringement procedures when needed. The EU Action Plan toward a Zero Pollution Ambition is a key action of the European Green Deal, and is scheduled for later this year. It will help to create a toxic-free environment across the EU by better monitoring, reporting, preventing and remedying air and other types of pollution, such as water, soil, and consumer products.

More information:

Previous citizen’s dialogues and their conclusions

EU policy on air quality

Zero pollution webpage


Publication date
18 February 2021
Directorate-General for Environment

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