A new more flexible NEC directive in place. Photo: Flickr.com / David Lowry cc-by


New NEC Directive in force

When fully implemented in 2030, the directive will nearly halve the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death.

On 17 December 2016 the new National Emission Ceilings (NEC) directive was published in the EU’s Official Journal and it entered into force on 31 December.

The new NEC directive (2016/2284) sets legally binding emissions reduction commitments for the member states’ emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), ammonia (NH3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Between 2005 and 2030, the emissions for all EU28 member states combined are to be cut by 79 per cent for SO2; 63 per cent for NOx; 49 per cent for PM2.5; 40 per cent for NMVOC; and 19 per cent for NH3.

The intermediate 2020 reduction commitments are identical with those that member states have already agreed internationally in the 2012 revision of the Gothenburg Protocol under the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Information on and comments to the country-by-country emissions reduction commitments can be found in Acid News No 3, 2016, pages 16-17.

Member states must transpose the Directive into national legislation by 30 June 2018 and produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 1 April 2019, setting out measures to ensure that emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the percentages agreed for the target years 2020 and 2030. The National Air Pollution Control Programme must be updated at least every four years, and the programmes and updates shall be subject to public consultation prior to finalisation.

With the new directive, several new flexibilities are introduced, including:

Adjustment of emission inventories;

  • Three-year averaging of emissions (in case of an exceptionally cold winter or an exceptionally dry summer);
  • Up to three years delay if non-compliance results from unforeseeable events (such as exceptional interruption or loss of capacity in the power/heat production system);
  • Up to five years delay (for some countries) if non-compliance occurs despite implementation of all cost-effective measures; and,
  • Deviation from following the linear reduction trajectory between 2020 and 2030.

The Commission will set up a European Clean Air Forum composed of national experts and stakeholders to exchange experience and best practices. A first meeting is expected in November 2017.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “The new European air quality rules are a significant landmark in the fight against this invisible killer that is air pollution. Air pollution kills over 450,000 people in Europe each year. This is more than ten times as many as road traffic accidents. Now it is for the national governments to start with implementation so that people can benefit from cleaner air. We will work with member states to support them in this challenge for improving the health of EU citizens.”

Christer Ågren

Source: European Commission press release, 14 December 2016
The new NEC Directive EU 2016/2284:    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32016L2284
Commission fact sheet on the new NEC Directive: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-4372_en.htm




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