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
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
The EU has established ambient air quality standards to be achieved by all EU countries.
Reducing emissions of air pollutants
EU rules set national reduction commitments for five main air pollutants.
EU cooperation with strategic partners to tackle transboundary air pollution.
Air pollution from key sectors
EU laws regulating emissions of air pollutants from various sources.
Tools and instruments
Clean Air Dialogues
Bilateral discussions between EU countries and the Commission on how to achieve cleaner air.
Air quality index and app
An EEA tool allowing users to check short-term air pollution levels where they live.
Clean Air Forum
The major clean air policy event, taking place every two years in different locations in the EU.
Clean Air Outlook
Reports analysing the prospects for reducing air pollution in the EU by 2030 and beyond.
Funding for clean air
Financial support for EU countries to implement clean air related policy.
Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform
The EU’s zero pollution ambition was set out in the European Green Deal to protect Europe’s citizens and ecosystems.
EEA and air pollution
Detailed data on air pollution in the EU is available on the EEA’s website.
JRC and air pollution
Information on support provided by JRC on improving air quality.
Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS)
CAMS monitors and forecasts European air quality and worldwide long-range transport of pollutants.
Main laws: Directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, Directive on arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air, Directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants
Related topics: Industrial emissions, Urban environment
Related strategies: Commission Communication - A Europe that protects: Clean air for all, Zero Pollution Action Plan
Related Commission priorities: European Green Deal
For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.