On 23 October 2001, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Directive on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants (NEC-001).
National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC) aims at limiting emissions of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants and ozone precursors in order to improve the protection in the Community of the environment and human health against risks of adverse effects from acidification, soil eutrophication and ground-level ozone. The ultimate goal is that:
- Critical levels and loads are not exceeded,
- Everyone is effectively protected against recognised health risks from air pollution by establishing national emission ceilings - taking the years 2010 and 2020 as benchmarks - and through successive revisions as defined in Articles 4 and 10.
Member States are limited in their annual national emissions of the pollutants sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and ammonia (NH3). The NEC Directive had to be revised in 2010. Proposals for this Directive will however be done in conjunction with other policies that are being prepared or planned, as announced by the European Commission early 2011. In a new NEC Directive, ceilings will undoubtedly be set lower, but it is not clear how much lower.
Some relevant documents:
NEC-001: Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants (European Parliament and the Council)