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EU clean air policy aims to improve ambient air quality and tackle air pollution, to protect the environment and human health.


Clean air is essential to our health and to the environment. However, due to human activities causing polluting emissions, air quality has deteriorated considerably. These activities are notably linked to industry, energy production, domestic heating, agriculture and transport.

Air pollution is the number one environmental health problem in the EU. It causes serious illnesses such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer, and vulnerable groups are affected the most. Air pollution also damages the environment and ecosystems through excess nitrogen pollution and acid rain. It is also costly for our economy, as it leads to lost working days and high healthcare costs.

To tackle air pollution and achieve the EU’s zero pollution vision for 2050, the EU has a comprehensive clean air policy based on three pillars: ambient air quality standards, reducing  air pollution emissions, and emissions standards for key sources of pollution.

In the EU

premature deaths caused by fine particulate matter annually
At least 55%
reduction of premature deaths due to particulate matter by 2030 (EU target)
At least €330 billion
annual economic cost of air pollution


The EU aims to improve air quality to protect human health and the environment. More specifically, EU policies aim to

  • reduce the number of premature deaths and sicknesses caused by air pollution
  • reduce pollution pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity

Specific policies

The EU has established ambient air quality standards to be achieved by all EU countries.

Tools and instruments

Bilateral discussions between EU countries and the Commission on how to achieve cleaner air.

The major clean air policy event, taking place every two years in different locations in the EU.

Reports analysing the prospects for reducing air pollution in the EU by 2030 and beyond.


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.