Council’s COREPER Approves Future Ambient Air Quality Law

Last month the trilogue negotiations between the European institutions concluded and a provisional final agreement on the text of the new Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) was reached. After that, parallel final approval procedures started both in the Council and in the European Parliament.

COREPER, gathering together the Permanent Representatives of EU Member States, met last week and endorsed the final compromise text; allowing the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety to kick off its own approval procedure.

The Committee will be expressing its position on the final compromise text today, Monday 11 March, and will then be voted on in the plenary by all Members of the European Parliament – most likely in April.

Margherita Tolotto, Policy Manager Air and Noise, European Environmental Bureau, said:

“By approving the final compromise text, Member States have recognised both the importance of securing better air for all Europeans and the need to secure more incisive action. The new Directive will help drive the change that we are all in need for. We are looking forward to seeing this text becoming EU law and to be correctly transposed as soon as possible.”

Ugo Taddei, Lawyer, ClientEarth, said:

“The Council’s backing of the AAQD shows that EU ministers are serious about putting the health of their people first when it comes to fighting dirty air. Member States must now put their money where their mouth is, and start taking the necessary steps to clean up our air and meet these new commitments in the coming years.”

Ebba Malmqvist, Air Pollution & Climate Secretariat (AirClim), said:

“This is an important step towards cleaner air in Europe and it will hopefully reduce the unacceptably high health and ecosystem costs of air pollution. We hope that the Member States will not use the 10-year postponement article to delay this action and instead use this directive as a mean to give its residents the possibility to breathe clean air in the near future.”

Zachary Azdad, Vehicles Policy Officer, Transport & Environment, said: 

“All things considered, this deal is good news for clean air in Europe. Member states in breach of the new pollution limits will have to take concrete actions such as bringing in low-emissions zones and incentives for zero emission vehicles. However, the weaker standards and possibility to postpone compliance by up to 10 years agreed at the behest of governments will extend the lifetime of dirty diesel and petrol cars in cities.”





The Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) is a cornerstone of European Union legislation aimed at regulating and improving air quality across Member States. Its primary objective is to protect human health and the environment by setting specific air quality standards and emission limits for various air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), benzene, and ozone (O3).

In October 2022, the European Commission proposed a revised AAQD, with air quality limit values for PM2.5 and NO2 twice the value of the WHO guidelines, to be met by 2030. A clear pathway for full alignment with the WHO’s guidelines was missing.

Air pollution is responsible for around 300,000 premature deaths annually in Europe, making it the foremost environmental threat to our health. Air pollution contributes to a wide range of health issues, including heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, diabetes, dementia, delayed cognitive development in children and lung cancer.

Council’s COREPER Approves Future Ambient Air Quality Law
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