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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution

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Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution

This Convention establishes a framework for intergovernmental cooperation with the aim of protecting health and the environment from air pollution that is liable to affect several countries. This cooperation covers the development of appropriate policies, the exchange of information, research and the implementation and development of a monitoring system.


Council Decision 81/462/EEC of 11 June 1981 on the conclusion of the Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution.


In this Convention, the Contracting Parties (i.e. the States or the European Union which are signatories to the Convention) commit themselves to limiting, and to gradually preventing and reducing their discharges of air pollutants and thus to combating the resulting transboundary pollution.

Long-range transboundary air pollution is defined as the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the air which have deleterious effects on human health, the environment or material property in another country, and for which the contribution of individual emission sources or groups of sources cannot be distinguished.

Policy cooperation

The Convention provides that Contracting Parties will develop and implement appropriate policies and strategies, particularly systems of air quality management. It also provides for the possibility for consultation to take place quickly in the case of pollution or a serious risk of pollution by one Party.

The Contracting Parties agree to meet regularly (at least annually) to assess progress made and liaise on matters relating to the Convention.

Scientific cooperation

The Parties will initiate concerted research and development efforts, particularly to reduce emissions of major air pollutants, for monitoring and measuring emission rates and concentrations of these pollutants, as well as to gain an understanding of the effects of these pollutants on health and the environment.

Exchange of Information

The Contracting Parties to the Convention will exchange information, in particular on data regarding the emission of major air pollutants (starting with sulphur dioxide) and their effects, aspects likely to cause significant changes in long-range transboundary air pollution (particularly in national policies and industrial development), control technologies for reducing air pollution and national policies and strategies to combat the major air pollutants.

Cooperation in the field of training

The Contracting Parties will participate in "the Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe" (EMEP). This programme, which is governed by a separate protocol, aims to provide parties to the Convention with scientific information regarding monitoring of the atmosphere, the provision of IT models, the assessment of emissions and the development of projections.

In order for this cooperation to succeed, the Parties, among other things, provide for:

  • the application of this programme, initially focused on monitoring sulphur dioxide and related substances, to other major air pollutants;
  • monitoring the composition of media susceptible to contamination by these pollutants (water, soil and vegetation) as well as the effects on health and the environment;
  • the provision of meteorological and physico-chemical data relating to processes during transmission;
  • the use, whenever possible, of comparable or standardised monitoring and modelling methods;
  • the integration of EMEP into relevant national and international programmes;
  • the regular exchange of data obtained by monitoring.


The Convention was signed in 1979 at Geneva, within the framework of the Economic Commission of the United Nations for Europe, and entered into force in 1983.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 81/462/EEC



OJ L 171 of 27.6.1981


Council Decision 2004/259/EC of 19 February 2004 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the 1988 Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants [OJ L 81 of 19.3.2004].

Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community, to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone [OJ L 179 of 17.7.2003].

Council Decision 2001/379/EC of 4 April 2001 on the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution on Heavy Metals [OJ L 134 of 17.5.2001].

Council Decision 98/686/EEC of 23 March 1998 on the conclusion by the European Community of the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution on further reductions of sulphur emissions [Official Journal L 326 of 3.12.1998].

Council Decision 93/361/EEC of 17 May 1993 on the accession of the Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Geneva Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution concerning the control of emissions of nitrogen oxides or their transboundary fluxes [Official Journal L 149 of 21.6.1993].

Council Decision 86/277/EEC of 12 June 1986 on the conclusion of the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution on long-term financing of the cooperative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmission of air pollutants in Europe (EMEP) [Official Journal L 181 of 4.7.1986].

See also

Last updated: 08.11.2011