EU clean air strategy


The strategy aims to extend clean air laws into new sectors - agriculture and transport - that were not covered before, targeting five main pollutants including fine-dust particles which are most harmful to human health. It is expected to cost the EU some €7.1 billion every year but the anticipated benefits in terms of reduced sickness and mortality will be fivefold, the Commission claims.

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The 'Thematic Strategy on air pollution', is part of the Commission's  Clean Air for Europe (CAFE)  programme, put forward by the Commission in 2001. Its key objective is to bring all existing air quality legislation into a new single legal instrument, the  draft Ambient Air Quality Directive .

The clean air strategy is also linked to the Euro 5 / Euro 6 legislation aimed at limiting pollutant emissions from cars. The new standards were adopted in 2006 and will start applying gradually as of 2009 (see related LinksDossier).

The strategy was due for adoption in July 2005 but was postponed due to pressure from some Commissioners who argued that Europe's economic problems needed to be tackled before environmental concerns (EurActiv 5/07/05). Following a July orientation debate, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas was finally given a green light to present his air pollution and other environmental strategies before the end of 2005 (EurActiv 22/07/05).

There are seven 'thematic strategies' due to be adopted under the Commission's 6th environmental action programme of 2002 (see related LinksDossier).