Final adoption of the air quality Directive

The European Commission welcomed the adoption of the directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe. The directive mirrors closely the Commission proposal of September 2005 and demonstrates the European Union's strong commitment to improving air quality in the EU by setting binding standards for fine particles PM2.5.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The European Union has taken a decisive step in tackling a major cause of environmental and health problems. European citizens are concerned about air pollution. The new directive on air quality addresses this concern by providing ambitious but realistic standards for fine particle PM2.5 pollution in the European Union."

Setting standards for reducing concentrations of fine particles

The directive agreed on 14th April merges four directives and one Council decision into a single directive on air quality. It sets standards and target dates for reducing concentrations of fine particles, which together with coarser particles known as PM10 already subject to legislation, are among the most dangerous pollutants for human health.

Under the directive Member States are required to reduce exposure to PM2.5 in urban areas by an average of 20% by 2020 based on 2010 levels. It obliges them to bring exposure levels below 20 micrograms/m3 by 2015 in these areas. Throughout their territory Member States will need to respect the PM2.5 limit value set at 25 micrograms/m3. This value must be achieved by 2015 or, where possible, already by 2010.