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Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme

The aim of the Clean Air for Europe Programme is to establish a long-term, integrated strategy to tackle air pollution and to protect against its effects on human health and the environment.


Commission communication of 4 May 2001 "The Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme: Towards a Thematic Strategy for Air Quality".


The situation in May 2001

The 1996 framework Directive, and a number of daughter Directives had already been adopted to improve air quality. Strategies have also been formulated to combat acidification, ozone and eutrophication, notably via the Directive on national emission ceilings. Existing Community measures and proposals to improve air quality had established:

  • target values for air quality;
  • national emission ceilings to tackle transboundary pollution;
  • integrated pollution-reduction programmes in targeted areas;
  • specific measures to limit emissions or raise product standards.

CAFE lays the bases for the first of the thematic strategies announced in the Sixth Environmental Action Programme.

Programme objectives

CAFE's objectives are:

  • to develop, collect and validate scientific information on the effects of air pollution (including validation of emission inventories, air quality assessment, projections, cost-effectiveness studies and integrated assessment modelling);
  • to support the correct implementation and review the effectiveness of existing legislation and to develop new proposals as and when necessary;
  • to ensure that the requisite measures are taken at the relevant level, and to develop structural links with the relevant policy areas;
  • to develop an integrated strategy (by 2004 at the latest, see below "Related Acts") to include appropriate objectives and cost-effective measures. The objectives of the first programme phase are: particulate matter, tropospheric ozone, acidification, eutrophication and damage to cultural heritage;
  • to disseminate the information gathered during the programme among the general public.

Other important programme features

Scientific input will be vital for implementing CAFE. Accordingly, links with the European Union's framework programmes of research and technological development is one of the programme's priorities.

CAFE is a transparent programme: reports, studies, etc., are regularly made available on the European Commission website. Interested parties may supply information and submit comments throughout the programme.

The candidate countries can take part in the programme.

There is close cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and with the World Health Organisation.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 September 2005 - Thematic Strategy on air pollution [COM(2005) 446 - Not published in the Official Journal].

Following on from the work carried out under the CAFE Programme, the Commission has fixed targets for reducing certain pollutants (SO2, NOx, VOCs, ammonia and PM2.5) and is strengthening the legislative framework for combating air pollution in two ways, firstly by improving Community environmental legislation and, secondly, by taking account of concerns about air quality in related policies.

Last updated: 16.06.2006