The Clean Air Policy Package
In December 2013 the Commission presented a package of measures to improve the air quality within the EU. In its communication ‘A Clean Air Programme for Europe’, the Commission notes that the EU’s air quality standards lag behind those of other
19 Ibid, para 76.
developed nations.20 This is partly attributed to ‘ongoing substantial breaches of air quality standards’ by EU Member States.21 But even if existing legislation were implemented in full, the EU would still suffer very significant negative impacts on public health and the environment. There is thus a need to set new targets and also to align EU legislation with international developments in the form of the revised Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone to the CLRTAP.22 To achieve new air policy targets for 2030, pollution emissions from each Member State need to be substantially reduced. This is to be achieved primarily by amendments to the NEC Directive. Part of the package is thus a proposal to repeal the NEC Directive and replace it with a recast Directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants.23 It would align the national emission ceiling regime with the Gothenburg Protocol and set out new targets for 2030.
The proposed new directive includes flexibility instruments according to which Member States will, under certain conditions, for example be allowed to offset certain reductions achieved by international maritime traffic against certain emissions released by other sources in the same year.
The Commission’s communication also includes a proposed new directive on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from medium combustion plants/4 Such plants have so far generally not been regulated at EU level. The proposed Directive applies to combustion plants with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 1 MW and less than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used. It lays down rules to control emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter into the air from such plants.
Mention should also be made of the Communication ‘Together towards competitive and resource efficient urban mobility’,25 according to which the Commission will set up a European Platform on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans to coordinate EU cooperation on developing the concept and tools further and support national authorities to develop and implement Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, including through funding instruments, aimed inter alia at reducing emissions from urban transport systems.