Brussels, Belgium – Despite significant emission reductions in recent years, only 11 European Union Member States are expected to remain within their emission limits set by the EU National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive for all four air pollutants. The nitrogen oxides ceiling has remained the most difficult for compliance, partly to due to demand for road transport that has grown faster than anticipated, and for policy measures that have proven less effective than originally anticipated, such as certain vehicle emission controls.

The NEC Directive covers four pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3).

Even taking into account NOx control measures already in place within the Member States, the NOx emissions for the EU-27 as a whole are still projected to be 9 per cent above the aggregated Member State limits (Annex I ceiling), and 20 per cent above the stricter ceiling for the European Community as a whole (Annex II), set for 2010. Some Member States, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, are expected to emit only slightly more NOx than their ceilings, but others, including Ireland, Austria and Spain are projected to miss their targets by as much as 50 per cent.

For the other three pollutants, most Member States are expected to reduce their emissions beyond their commitments, and as a result, the EU as a whole is expected to register substantial reductions. In the case of NMVOCs, EU-27 emissions are projected to be 9 per cent below the Annex I ceiling, but 6 per cent above the stricter Annex II ceiling. SO2 projections are even better, at 31 per cent below Annex I and 27 below Annex II ceilings; 19 EU Member States are already below their ceilings.

 

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