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Action for air quality improvements being taken across the EU

The National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive was signed by the European Parliament and the Council on 14th December 2016. It was enforced on 31 December. This new system is the most essential part of the Clean Air Programme for Europe that was implemented by the Commission on 18 December 2013. The NEC Directive is intended to set more stringent limits on the five main pollutants in Europe, which are: fine particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, and ammonia.

As air pollution kills over 450,000 people per year in Europe, the directive is critical to follow to preserve the health of citizens. The implementation goals are as follows:

• Improve the quality of fresh water, soil and ecosystems

• Consider the impacts of harmful particles, such as black carbon, that are causing climate change

• Reduce the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death) by 50% by 2030

How will it be carried out? The Member States play the most important role:

• They must move the Directive into national legislation by 30 June 2018

• They must ensure that by 2020 and 2030, emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the agreed percentages

Additionally, the Directive will act to revise the Gothenburg Protocol from 2012. By doing this, pollution will be reduced in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asian states; which will reduce EU citizens’ exposure to transboundary pollution as well as benefitting the states’ own citizens.


Issue 53