Most EU governments failed to file air pollution plans by April deadline

EU officials are still waiting to receive crucial air pollution reduction programmes from fourteen EU governments, including France, Germany, Poland and Spain.

National governments were supposed to detail how they planned to reduce emissions of harmful air pollution in ‘National Air Pollution Control Programmes’, which should have been sent to the European Commission this month. However, only 13 of the EU’s 28 Member States had filed their plans by the end of April [1]. Margherita Tolotto, Clean Air Policy Officer at the EEB said:

“It is shocking that more than half of EU governments have failed to meet a deadline for something this important. Every day of delay in cutting air pollution means more people suffering the consequences for their health. “With just weeks to go until the European elections we are reminded why EU oversight is so important. Even on an issue as important as air pollution – where there is broad public support for action – national governments are failing to deliver. We need the EU to hold them to account.”

The full list of governments that have failed to set out their plans: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. France and Germany were part of a ‘toxic bloc’ of EU member states sent to the European Court of Justice last year for their failure to cut emissions quickly enough to come into line with the EU air quality standards.[2] The court already ruled against Bulgaria and Poland in earlier cases. [3] The missing air pollution programmes are a requirement of the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive, which sets reduction targets for harmful pollution per country. They should have detailed the measures governments will use to cut emissions from areas like transport, industry and agriculture. The national air pollution reduction programmes, and other requirements in the NEC Directive, complement the role of the EU’s air quality standards, which set maximum concentration levels for certain pollutants in the air we breathe. According to the law, governments had until 1 April to deliver their detailed air pollution reduction programmes to the European Commission. Governments were required to consult with the public about the contents of their plans. Only four governments met the original deadline.



[1] National Air Quality Reduction Programmes uploaded to the European Commission Website

[2] EU Governments in the Dock after Air Quality Breaches on a Continental Scale,, 17 May 2018

[3] Polish Air Quality Ruling Warning to ‘Toxic Bloc’ Governments, EEB Press Release, 22 February 2018  

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ groups with 150 members in more than 30 countries. Together with DUH, FNE and the Lake Constance Foundation, the EEB has launched the ‘Clean Air Farming‘ project to help reduce ammonia and methane emissions from agriculture. The Project Clean Air Farming (LIFE17 GIE/DE/610 Air & Agriculture) is co-financed by the LIFE-Programme of the European Commission.

For more information:

Anton Lazarus, Communication Officer, European Environmental Bureau

+32 2 790 88 18

Most EU governments failed to file air pollution plans by April deadline
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