As part of the European Green Deal, the EU is revising the air quality standards to align them more closely with the recommendations of the World Health Organization. See the latest WHO Air Quality Guidelines, published on 22 September 2021. This revision also aims to improve overall EU legislation for clean air, building on the lessons learnt from the 2019 evaluation (‘fitness check’) of the Ambient Air Quality Directives.
Revision of the Directives
The Commission plans to revise the Ambient Air Quality Directives in 2022. To this end, the Commission has published an Inception Impact Assessment, to guide the work and to assess the impacts of a possible revision.
The Commission is consulting citizens and a broad range of stakeholders on the revision, as detailed in the consultation strategy.
The consultation activities include:
- an open public consultation allowing the interested public and stakeholders to express their views (23 September to 16 December 2021); find a factual summary report here;
- targeted stakeholder consultations, addressed to selected stakeholders in all Member States and at EU level (in December 2021 & February 2022);
- stakeholder meetings to help identify and confirm the issues for the impact assessment and to receive final feedback.
First stakeholder meeting - 23 September 2021
This first stakeholder meeting was organised to help identify and confirm the issues for the impact assessment, and gather initial views on the ambition level for the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives.
Find the agenda, presentation by the Commission and consultants, presentation by the World Health Organization and summary of the meeting here.
Second stakeholder meeting - 4 April 2022
The second stakeholder meeting was aiming to receive feedback that would assist in the completion of the Commission’s Impact Assessment for the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives.
Find the agenda, briefing paper and presentation by the Commission and consultants of the meeting here.
Strengthening of air quality monitoring, modelling and plans under the Ambient Air Quality Directives
As part of the process on ‘Air Quality – revision of EU Rules’, the European Commission commissioned a study to support the work on strengthening the provisions on air quality monitoring, modelling and plans to help local authorities achieve clean air.
The results of the study are available here. The study has:
- identified 72 key issues related to the implementation of the provisions for air quality monitoring, modelling and air quality plans that would benefit from further guidance or clearer requirements;
- 42 possible technical solutions to address these;
- made recommendations to new guidance documents and suggested updates to existing guidance published by the European Commission to allow implementation of the technical solutions.
In the framework of the study, a targeted expert survey solicited views about the provisions governing air quality monitoring, modelling and plans, the interpretation and implementation of these provisions, and the administrative burden they pose. It was carried out in the period of 1 February to 1 March 2021 – and its results are available here.
‘Fitness check’ of the Directives
The European Commission completed an evaluation (‘fitness check’) of the two EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (Directives 2008/50/EC and 2004/107/EC) in 2019. This drew on the experience in all Member States, focusing on the period from 2008 to 2018- the period in which both Directives were in force.
This fitness check evaluated the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added-value of the Directives, in line with Better Regulation requirements.
The findings of the fitness check inform further reflections on whether the Directives are fit for purpose and continue to provide the appropriate legislative framework to ensure protection from adverse impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment. The press release on the results of this fitness check is available here.
What are the results of the Fitness Check?
The Commission finalised this fitness check in November 2019, publishing the following documents:
- Commission Staff Working Document (SWD(2019) 427)
- Executive Summary (SWD(2019) 428) in English, German and French
The work was underpinned by the evidence collected in the study ‘Supporting the fitness check of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (2008/50/EC, 2004/107/EC)’. The study is comprised of a final report and appendices with more details on the performed analysis:
In addition, an "EU Monitoring Regime Assessment" study was conducted for the year 2015 for each EU Member State to analyse the monitoring and assessment regimes.
The fitness check process was guided by the Roadmap.
Through a comprehensive stakeholder consultation, the public were able to contribute to the evaluation. The consultation activities in this fitness check were guided by a consultation strategy and included the following events:
- Online Public Consultation to collect views and opinions including via a survey, was carried out in the period 8 May to 31 July 2018. A summary of received contributions can be found here.
- Side event during EU Green Week on 24 May 2018 provided the city-level perspective on what works well, and what does not, as regards EU Clean Air policies (a summary is available here)
- First Stakeholder Workshop on 18 June 2018 collected stakeholders’ views on the main objectives of the Directives within the framework of the evaluation criteria. More information is available here.
- Second Stakeholder Workshop was organised on 15 January 2019 to receive final feedback to assist in the completion of the evaluation. More information can be found here.
The synopsis report from the public consultation is available in all EU languages.