Tag Archives: Environmental standards

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants [See amending act(s)].


This Directive has been adopted in line with the 1997 communication concerning the strategy to combat acidification, which sought to establish, for the first time, national emission ceilings for certain pollutants.


This Directive covers emissions in the territory of the Member States and their exclusive economic zones from four pollutants which arise as a result of human activities:

  • emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2),
  • emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx),
  • emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), and
  • emissions of ammonia (NH3).

These pollutants are responsible for the phenomena of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation (also called “bad ozone”, present at low altitude, as opposed to stratospheric ozone), irrespective of the sources of pollution.

National emission ceilings

This Directive provides for the introduction of national emission ceilings by the end of 2010 at the latest. These ceilings are laid down in Annex I to the Directive.

Interim environmental objectives

The purpose of the emission ceilings is broadly to meet the following interim environmental objectives:

  • the areas with critical loads of acid depositions will be reduced by at least 50% compared with 1990;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for human health will be reduced by two-thirds compared with the 1990 situation. An absolute limit is also set. The guide value set by the World Health Organisation may not be exceeded on more than 20 days a year;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for crops and semi-natural vegetation will be reduced by one-third compared with 1990. An absolute limit is also set.

National programmes

Member States are required to draw up programmes, by 1 October 2002, for the progressive reduction of their annual national emissions. The programmes must be updated and revised as necessary in 2006. They must be made available to the public and to appropriate organisations and submitted to the Commission.

Emission inventories

Moreover, Member States must prepare and annually update national emission inventories and emission projections for SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3. These inventories and projections must be reported to the Commission and the European Environment Agency each year by 31 December at the latest.


The Commission must report (in 2004, 2008 and 2012) to the European Parliament and the Council on progress on the implementation of the ceilings and towards attaining the interim environmental objectives and the long-term objectives set by the Directive. These reports must contain an economic assessment of the implementation of the national emission ceilings, including cost-effectiveness, costs and benefits, impact on competitiveness and socio-economic impact in each Member State.

The Commission will report to the Council and the European Parliament on the extent to which emissions from international maritime traffic and aircraft contribute to acidification, eutrophication and the formation of ground-level ozone within the Community. It will also specify the action which could be taken to reduce emissions from these sectors.

Cooperation with third countries

Member States and the Commission shall cooperate with third countries and the international organisations concerned with the aim of exchanging information and making progress in research aiming to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2001/81/EC



Official Journal 309 of 27.11.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009


OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Related Acts

Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone.

This Protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on corporate social responsibility


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment rights and work organisation

Green Paper on corporate social responsibility

1) Objective

To launch a wide debate on how the European Union could promote corporate social responsibility on a European and International level, in particular, on how to make the most of existing experiences, to encourage the development of innovative practices, to bring greater transparency and to increase reliability in evaluating and validating the various initiatives undertaken in Europe.

2) Document or Iniciative

Green Paper – Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility [COM(2001) 366 – Not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary


Corporate social responsibility can make a positive contribution to the strategic goal decided by the Lisbon European Council: “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. A European approach to corporate social responsibility forms part of the broader context of various international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact (2000), the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (1997-2000), or the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000). While these initiatives are not legally binding, the European Commission is committed to the active promotion of the OECD guidelines. Observance of the core ILO labour standards (freedom of association, abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and elimination of child labour) is central to corporate social responsibility.

Corporate social responsibility

Being socially responsible means not only fulfilling the applicable legal obligations, but also going beyond compliance and investing “more” into human capital, the environment and relations with stakeholders. The experience with investment in environmentally responsible technologies and business practices suggests that in going beyond legal compliance companies can increase competitiveness and it can have a direct impact on productivity.

Corporate social responsibility should nevertheless not be seen as a substitute to regulation or legislation concerning social rights or environmental standards, including the development of appropriate new legislation. In countries where such regulations do not exist, efforts should focus on putting the proper regulatory or legislative framework in place in order to define a level playing field on the basis of which socially responsible practices can be developed.

Whilst corporate social responsibility is so far mainly promoted by large or multinational companies, it is relevant in all types of companies and in all sectors of activity, from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to multinationals. Certain SMEs already assume their social responsibility, particularly through community involvement. Worker cooperatives and participation schemes, as well as other forms of cooperative, mutual and associative enterprises structurally integrate other stakeholder interests and take up spontaneous social and civil responsibilities.

Corporate social responsibility: the internal and external dimensions

Under increasing pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consumer groups and now also investors, companies and sectors are increasingly adopting codes of conduct covering working conditions, human rights and environmental aspects, in particular those of their subcontractors and suppliers. Surveys have shown that consumers not only want to buy good and safe products, but they also want to know if they are produced in a socially responsible manner. In recent years, investors have seen socially responsible investing (SRI) in the social domain and investment in environmental protection as a good indication of sound internal and external management. Socially responsible practices can thus help open the way to reconciling social development with improved competitiveness.

Within the company, socially responsible practices primarily involve investment in human capital, health and safety, and managing change. They also cover environmentally responsible practices relating to the management of the natural resources used in production. In addition to these internal aspects, companies also contribute externally to their local communities, by providing jobs, wages, services and tax revenues. On the other hand companies depend on the health, stability, and prosperity of the communities in which they operate. In this sense, corporate social responsibility involves a wide range of stakeholders: business partners and suppliers, customers, public authorities and NGOs representing local communities, as well as the environment.

In a world of multinational investment and global supply chains, corporate social responsibility must also extend beyond the borders of Europe. One of the external dimensions to corporate social responsibility is that of human rights, particularly in relation to global production activities. Despite the existence of international instruments such as the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, human rights remain a very complex issue presenting political, legal and moral dilemmas.

Integrated management of social responsibility

Companies’ approaches in dealing with their responsibilities and relationships with their different stakeholders vary according to sectoral and cultural differences. In general, companies tend to adopt a mission statement, code of conduct, or credo where they state their purpose, core values, and responsibilities towards their stakeholders. These values are then translated into action across the organisation, adding a social or environmental dimension to their plans and budgets in order to carry out social or environmental audits and set up continuing education programmes.

Many multinational companies are now issuing social responsibility reports. While environmental, health, and safety reports are common, reports tackling issues such as human rights or child labour are not. In order for these reports to be useful, a global consensus needs to evolve on the type of information to be disclosed, the reporting format to be used, and the reliability of the evaluation and audit procedures.

The Green Paper invites public authorities at all levels, including international organisations, enterprises from SMEs to multinationals, social partners, NGOs, other stakeholders and all interested individuals to express their views on how to build a partnership for the development of a new framework for the promotion of corporate social responsibility, taking account of the interests of both business and the various stakeholders. Enterprises need to work together with public authorities to find innovative ways of developing corporate social responsibility.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work