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European Commission Representation in Cyprus
News article20 February 2024Representation in Cyprus3 min read

Commission welcomes provisional agreement for cleaner air in the EU

The Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive.

The Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive. Once adopted, the new law will set 2030 EU air quality standards aligned more closely with the WHO global air quality guidelines. This is an important step to better protect our health and move forward on the path to zero pollution in our environment by 2050.

Cleaner ambient air by 2030

With the revised Ambient Air Quality Directive, the annual limit value for the main pollutant – fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – is cut by more than half. A regular review of the air quality standards to reassess them, in line with latest scientific evidence as well as societal and technological developments, will help putting the EU on a trajectory to achieve zero pollution for air at the latest by 2050, in synergy with climate-neutrality efforts.

National and local authorities will determine the specific measures they would take to meet the standards. At the same time, existing and new EU policies in environment, energy, transport, agriculture, R&I and other fields will make a significant contribution.

The revision will ensure that people suffering from health damages due to air pollution have the right to be compensated in the case of a violation of EU air quality rules.  It will also bring more clarity on access to justice, effective penalties, and better public information on air quality.

It will support local authorities by strengthening the provisions on air quality monitoring and modelling, and help improve air quality plans. The improved rules on air quality monitoring and modelling will make it possible to check more closely compliance with standards and support more efficient and effective action to prevent and address breaches of standards.

The revised Directive will also ensure early action to achieve cleaner air. If air pollution levels are higher than the new 2030 standards over the coming years, Member States need to analyse whether they are on track to complying with the legislation in time, and, if needed, take measures and ensure compliance in 2030. Under specific circumstances, Member States may get more time to achieve the new standards. Justifications for such time extensions must be based on sound analysis. Member States will need to take appropriate measures to ensure they respect air quality standards as soon as possible.

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now formally have to adopt the revised Directive before it can enter into force. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.


On 26 October 2022, the Commission adopted the proposal for a revised Ambient Air Quality Directive. This is a key advance for the European Green Deal's zero pollution ambition of having a zero pollution environment by 2050.

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to health and a leading cause of chronic diseases, including stroke, cancer and diabetes. It disproportionately affects sensitive and vulnerable social groups. About 300,000 premature deaths per year and a significant number of non-communicable diseases, such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer, are attributed to air pollution. Air pollution continues to be the number one environmental cause of early death in the EU. In this regard, the worst pollutants are particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone.

Polluted air also harms the environment causing acidification, eutrophication and damage to forests, ecosystems and crops. Today, eutrophication exceeds critical loads in two thirds of ecosystem areas across the EU. This has a significant impact on biodiversity and the services it delivers for us all.

For More Information

Commission's proposal on the revision of the Ambient Air Quality Directives (26 October 2022)

Questions and Answers on the Commission's proposal for a revision of EU ambient air quality legislation (from 26 October 2022)



This agreement represents a milestone for zero pollution, a cleaner and healthier Europe.  The revised law puts in place the standards and the trajectory we need to protect our health and the environment from polluted air. This will especially benefit vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, and bring us closer to our target: a Europe where pollution is an issue of the past and clean air our future reality.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries


Publication date
20 February 2024 (Last updated on: 20 February 2024)
Representation in Cyprus