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National emission limits for certain air pollutants

National emission limits for certain air pollutants

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It sets limits on total national emissions from 4 pollutants — sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia.

These can cause:

  • acidification (e.g. the chemical composition of the sea acidifies),
  • water and soil pollution (eutrophication), and
  • ground-level ozone (ozone resulting from the reaction of the four pollutants with heat and sunlight).

EU action continues to be necessary because of the persisting transboundary nature of these pollutants. The limits are staging posts towards more ambitious longer-term objectives.

KEY POINTS

  • EU countries had to ensure that, by 2010, emissions of the four pollutants were below the ceilings set out in the legislation and remained below in subsequent years.
  • Each country had to draw up a national programme by 1 October 2002 to meet these targets. These were to contain the policies and measures to be taken and their likely impact. If necessary, they were to be updated in 2006.
  • The programmes were and still are to be made available to the public and environmental and other organisations.
  • National authorities have to produce annual emission inventories and projections and submit these to the Commission and the European Environment Agency by the end of each year.
  • The Commission was to assess the progress made and report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2012.
  • The legislation does not cover international maritime and aircraft emissions, or emissions in the Canaries, France’s overseas departments, Madeira or the Azores.

BACKGROUND

Since air pollution is an international problem that crosses national frontiers, the EU acceded, in June 2003, to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone (see relevant summary)

In 2013, the Commission noted that Europe's air quality had improved significantly, but was still failing to meet the targets set. The assessment, set out in its communication ‘A clean air programme for Europe’, was accompanied by the adoption of Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants.

This directive repeals Directive 2001/81/EC, aiming to extend the national emission ceilings to 2020 and to introduce new ones for 2025.

For more information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants (OJ L 309, 27.11.2001, pp. 22-30)

Successive amendments to Directive 2001/81/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

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)

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, 17.7.2003, pp. 1-2)

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 of 18.12.2013)

last update 29.08.2019

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