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Reducing emissions of air pollutants

The NEC Directive sets national reduction commitments for five main air pollutants, and requires Member States to monitor and report the emissions of these pollutants.


The NEC Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2284) sets national reduction commitments for five main air pollutants that have a significant negative impact on human health and the environment. These are

  • sulphur dioxide (SO2)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC)
  • ammonia (NH3)
  • fine particulate matter (PM2,5)

Member States are required to monitor and report the emissions of these five pollutants (“emission inventories”). They should also report on a number of other pollutants listed in Annex I of the Directive, for example black carbon.

Member States also have to draw up, adopt and implement national air pollution control programmes. These should show how they will meet their emission reduction commitments for 2020 - 2029, and how they will reach the more ambitious commitments by 2030 and beyond. The reduction commitments for 2020 - 2029 are the same as those made by Member States under the amended Gothenburg Protocol to the UNECE Air Convention.

The first Commission report presenting the state of play on the implementation of the NEC Directive was published in 2020.


The NEC Directive aims to

  • move towards achieving levels of air quality that do not cause significant negative impacts on human health and the environment
  • support biodiversity and ecosystem protection
  • enhance synergies with other EU objectives, such as climate and energy



Evaluation of NEC Directive

Article 13 of the Directive calls on the Commission to review the Directive no later than 31 December 2025. The Commission will evaluate the Directive following the Better Regulation guidelines and toolbox. Relevant information on the review is published here.


Member States must report national emission inventories each year, accompanied by a report.