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Document 32016L2284

EU rules on national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants

EU rules on national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants



Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants


  • It aims to reduce the health risks and environmental impact of air pollution by establishing national emission reduction commitments*.
  • The directive also aligns emission reduction commitments under EU law with international commitments (following the revision of the Gothenburg Protocol in 2012).

The legislation was proposed as part of the EU’s 2013 Clean Air Policy Package, which included a Clean Air Programme for Europe.



The directive covers 5 air pollutants:

  • sulphur dioxide;
  • nitrogen oxides;
  • non-methane volatile organic compounds;
  • ammonia;
  • fine particulate matter.

Emission reduction commitments

  • The directive sets emission reduction commitments per pollutant for each EU country to be attained by 2020 and 2030.
  • The emission reduction commitments for each pollutant that will apply each year from 2020 to 2029 are the same as those which the EU countries are already committed to under the revised Gothenburg protocol.
  • New stricter reductions have been agreed from 2030 onwards.

Emission reduction commitments

  • Indicative emission levels for 2025 will be identified for each EU country.
  • These will be calculated on the basis of a linear reduction trajectory, i.e. emissions reduced by a constant percentage each year, towards the emission reduction commitments for 2030.
  • EU countries can, however, follow a non-linear trajectory if this is more efficient.

If an EU country deviates from the trajectory planned, they must give their reasons and explain the actions they intend to take to get back on track.


  • The directive allows for some flexibility regarding compliance with the emission reduction commitments under certain circumstances, for example:
    • emission inventories may be adjusted according to certain conditions in order to take into account progress in scientific knowledge;
    • in case of an exceptionally cold winter or an exceptionally dry summer, the country concerned can comply with the directive by averaging out annual emissions with those of the preceding and subsequent years.

National programmes

  • The directive requires national air pollution control programmes to be established from 1 April 2019.
  • EU countries must update their programmes at least every 4 years, and consider measures applicable to all relevant sectors to limit emissions, including:
    • agriculture;
    • energy;
    • industry;
    • road transport;
    • inland shipping;
    • domestic heating;
    • use of non-road mobile machinery; and
    • solvents.

European Clean Air Forum

  • The directive requires the European Commission to set up a European Clean Air Forum to exchange experience and good practices, including on emission reductions from domestic heating and road transport, that can inform and enhance the national air pollution control programmes and their implementation.


Directive (EU) 2016/2284 has repealed Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants as from 1 July 2018. However, the ceilings set out in Directive 2001/81/EC will nonetheless continue to apply until the new reduction commitments established by Directive (EU) 2016/2284 become applicable as of 1 January 2020.


It has applied since 31 December 2016 and had to become law in the EU countries by 1 July 2018.


For more information, see:


National emissions reduction commitments: EU countries’ obligations to reduce emissions of a substance; the commitments specify the minimum emission reductions that have to be achieved in the target calendar year, as a percentage of the total of emissions released during the base year (2005).


Directive (EU) 2016/2284 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 December 2016 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants, amending Directive 2003/35/EC and repealing Directive 2001/81/EC (OJ L 344, 17.12.2016, pp. 1-31)


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Clean Air Programme for Europe (COM(2013) 918 final, 18.12.2013)

last update 29.08.2019