Revision of EU ambient air quality legislation

EESC opinion: Revision of EU ambient air quality legislation

Key points


  • recommends fully aligning the EU air quality standards (including for ozone, in the form of limit values) with the updated World Health Organization (WHO) Global Air Quality Guidelines by 2030 at the latest, and defining a strong enabling framework based on limit values, enforcement mechanisms and clear management rules. Reducing air pollution has large co-benefits for climate mitigation, energy security and biodiversity, and it increases the resilience of populations for pandemics;
  • welcomes the approach taken by the Commission to focus on "benefit-to-cost", but regrets that the ratio, and not the maximum protection of human life and health indicators, is considered the most important indicator to be taken into account in this revision. This leads to "closer alignment", rather than to "full alignment" as the preferred policy option. With the exception of nitrogen dioxide, the proposal seems to seek an alignment with the WHO Guidelines from 2005 and not the latest ones, published in September 2021;
  • is confident that the AAQDs limits and rules, ambitiously set and enforced in a timely manner, together with effective sectoral measures, will lead to bold actions at national and local levels;
  • calls for funding increase for citizen science projects related to pollution under the Horizon Europe programme. Citizens should act too and learn about the link between their lifestyle, actions, consumption patterns, and pollution levels. Better informed people are much more motivated to act, and long-term behavioural change can be achieved more easily;
  • strongly supports the right to compensation for people who have suffered health damage from air pollution and penalties for natural and legal persons within the Member State that violated the rules.