COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT FITNESS CHECK of the Ambient Air Quality Directives Directive 2004/107/EC relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air and Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe
1. This communication and staff working document concerns the fitness check carried out by the Commission on current Ambient Air Quality Directives. The Commission conducted a Fitness Check on the Air Quality Directives (AQDs) early in 2019 to check the relative success of European air quality policies over the last 10 years. They engaged with UK officials and other Member States, along with a number of Environmental Non-Government Organisations and conducted public consultation.
2. The AQDs constitute the third generation of EU level air quality policies since the early 1980s, and have inherited many provisions, including many air quality standards from predecessor legislation. The Fitness Check highlights that these policies have rendered some successes, as exemplified by the decrease of exceedances for most air pollutants over the past decade. However, it suggests the air quality challenge is far from being solved. Although the number of people exposed to air pollution decreased markedly during the past decade, persistent exceedances above EU air quality standards remain for several air pollutants, and especially for particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and benzo(a)pyrene.
3. The Fitness Check concludes that the AQDs have guided the establishment of a representative high-quality monitoring of air quality, set clear air quality standards, and facilitated the exchange of reliable, objective, comparable information on air quality, including to a wider public. But they have been less successful in ensuring that sufficient action is taken by Member States to meet air quality standards and keep exceedances as short as possible. Nevertheless, the evidence indicates the AQDs have contributed to a downward trend in air pollution and reduced the number and magnitude of exceedances and so are considered broadly fit for purpose.