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Revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives

Improving the EU’s air quality standards for zero pollution by 2050.

On 26 October 2022, as part of the European Green Deal, the Commission has proposed to revise the Ambient Air Quality Directives. The revision aligns the air quality standards more closely with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (see the latest WHO Air Quality Guidelines, published on 22 September 2021). For example, the annual limit value for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) will be reduced by more than half.

Revision of the Directives

The proposal is available here and

  • puts the EU on track to achieve zero pollution for air by 2050 
  • foresees a regular review of the air quality standards, in line with latest scientific evidence 
  • further improves the legal framework, providing more clarity on access to justice, damage redress, effective penalties, and better public information on air quality 
  • will better support local authorities in achieving cleaner air by strengthening air quality monitoring, modelling, and air quality plans 
  • merges the current two Directives into one and streamlines provisions to clarify and simplify the rules 

View the Inception Impact Assessment, guiding the work and assessing the impacts of a possible revision.

Find out more in the Press Release and Questions and Answers, and the fact sheets in all EU languages

Impact assessment and underpinning support studies

The proposal has been underpinned by a detailed impact assessment:

  • An executive summary of the impact assessment report highlights the main findings regarding the setting of future EU air quality standards.
  • The impact assessment report provides an assessment of 69 potential specific policy measures, including a benefit-cost assessment of key policy options.
  • Twelve annexes to the impact assessment (Annexes 1 to 5, 6, and 7 to 12) provide additional detail on the impact assessment, including quantified results.

This impact assessment has been informed by a series of support studies: 

  • Study to support the impact assessment for a revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives – Final Report  

  • Study to support the impact assessment for a revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives – Appendix 

  • Study to support the impact assessment for a revision of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives – Additional sensitivity studies and robustness checks Report | Appendix

  • Study on systematic assessment of monitoring of other air pollutants not covered under Directives 2004/107/EC and 2008/50/EC Final Report | Annex 4-5 

Stakeholder consultation

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); find the contributions here.
  • stakeholder meetings to help identify and confirm the issues for the impact assessment and to receive final feedback.

For more information, visit the Have your say portal - and see the terms of reference for the support study and see this summary slide set (status May 2021).

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:

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.

Consultation strategy

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.