Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted stricter rules on air pollution, while leaving EU Member States some flexibility to extend deadlines for power plants or even waive the rules for certain specific installations.

The Industrial Emissions Directive, which recently received its second reading in the European Parliament, aims to improve health and the environment, while making the rules clearer and easier to implement.
The Directive updates and merges seven existing pieces of legislation, including directives on large combustion plants and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) – the latter covering approximately 52,000 industrial and agricultural installations with a high pollution potential.
Stricter limits on nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dust will be introduced from 2016. However, MEPs agreed that EU Member States can use ‘transitional national plans’ to allow large combustion plants up to July 2020 to adhere to the rules.
In addition, some older plants may not have to meet the targets at all, so long as they close by the end of 2023 or run for 17,500 operating hours after 2016; whichever comes first. Newer power stations are still required to meet the 2012 deadline that applies to them.
The Council of Ministers now needs to approve the text, after which Member States will be required to implement the Directive in national statute.