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News announcement26 October 2022Directorate-General for Environment

Zero Pollution: EC proposes rules for cleaner air and water

On 26 October, the European Commission proposed stronger rules against pollution through revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives, the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and the list of controlled surface and groundwater pollutants.

Clean air and water are essential for the health of people and ecosystems. Air pollution alone means nearly 300,000 Europeans die prematurely each year, and the proposed new rules will reduce deaths resulting from levels of the main pollutant PM2.5 above World Health Organization guidelines by more than 75% in 10 years. 

The proposed new rules include:

  • revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives will set interim 2030 EU air quality standards, aligned more closely with World Health Organization guidelines, while putting the EU on a trajectory to achieve zero pollution for air at the latest by 2050
  • a revised Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, which will help Europeans benefit from cleaner rivers, lakes, groundwaters and seas, while making wastewater treatment more cost-effective
  • updated lists of water pollutants to be more strictly controlled in surface waters and groundwater.

Across air and water, all of the new rules provide clear return on investment thanks to benefits in health, energy savings, food production, industry, and biodiversity. Learning the lessons from current laws, the Commission proposes to both tighten allowed levels of pollutants and to improve implementation to ensure pollution reduction goals are more often reached in practice. 

Today's proposals are a key advance for the European Green Deal's zero pollution ambition of having an environment free of harmful pollution by 2050. They also respond to specific demands of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

For further information

Information on the new proposals is available here.

Video of the press conference announcing the Zero Pollution package, along with the remarks made by Executive Vice-President Timmermans' and Commissioner Sinkevičius' is available here.


Publication date
26 October 2022
Directorate-General for Environment

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