The quality of the air we breathe is fundamental to human health. In recent years both environmental and public health professionals, at the highest levels, have expressed major concerns about air pollution. In Europe, air pollution is linked to 390 000 premature deaths annually. It is the single biggest environmental health risk in Europe with a significant part of the population of the EU living in areas where air quality does not meet EU standards. Air pollution not only presents a significant risk to human health, but also contributes to climate change, causes damage to ecosystems, reduces labour productivity, makes healthcare more expensive and threatens food security. European citizens are well aware of this issue and are very concerned about the quality of their air. In 2017, almost half of European citizens thought that air quality in their Member State had deteriorated in the previous ten years. The European Union has been working to improve air quality since the 1970s. Milieu’s work contributes to the success of the work of the EU in tackling air pollution and improving air quality.

Examples of the work of Milieu in this field are set out below:

Fitness check of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (2008/50/EC, 2004/107/EC) (led by COWI), DG ENV

The European Commission is carrying out a Fitness check of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, 2008/50/EC, and the related Directive (2004/107/EC) on arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air. These Directives seek to protect human health and the environment from poor air quality. The goal of the support study is to provide evidence as to whether the two Directives remain fit for purpose.

In this study led by COWI, Milieu is playing a key role. We are leading the assessment of the coherence, sharing the lead on the evaluation of EU added value and also contributing to the assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and relevance of the Directives. We have prepared case studies on the implementation of the Directives in Bulgaria, Italy and Spain.

Review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution (led by ECORYS), DG ENV

In 2011, the European Commission launched a review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and associated Directives on Ambient Air Quality (AAQD, 2008/50/EC), and on National Emission Ceilings (NECD, 2001/81/EC).

In this project, led by Ecorys, Milieu supported the review, including the identification of policy options and the preparation of an impact assessment of these options. In particular, the project supported the Commission by preparing options to improve air quality measurement provisions, air quality modelling provisions, air quality management and assessment and public information and dissemination. Milieu provided support for the Commission’s public and stakeholder consultation on the revision of the Thematic Strategy. The consultation covered all key issues for the review of the Strategy.

Conformity assessment of key directives in the area of air quality

Milieu has carried out conformity studies of key Directives in the field of air quality, including the Ambient Air Quality Directive and the Industrial Emissions Directive, in all 28 Member States. We have analysed national legislation in all Member States to check whether the requirements of EU law have been effectively transposed. This work highlights gaps and errors in the legislation of the Member States. It provides the Commission with key information on compliance with EU air quality laws within the Member States.