European Council
Council of the European Union

Medium combustion plants: New rules on emissions adopted

Council of the EU
  • 10/11/2015
  • 13:11
  • Press release
  • 784/15
  • Environment
  • Energy
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On 10 November 2015, the Council adopted a new directive to limit the emissions from combustion plants of medium size. These new rules are part of the clean air legislative package, which aims at improving  air quality in the EU.

The new directive sets emission limit values for certain pollutants. These limits will be applied for new and existing combustion plants of medium size (between 1 and 50 MW). 

Closing a gap

While smaller and bigger plants are covered by respective EU directives, the emissions from medium combustion plants were not yet regulated at EU level. The new rules fill that gap to complete the regulatory framework for the combustion sector, as an important source of certain pollutants.

Medium combustion plants are used for a wide variety of uses, including domestic heating and cooling, electricity generation and providing steam for industrial processes. The approximate number of medium combustion plants in the EU is over 140 000.

Main elements

The new directive includes: 

  • compulsory registration of medium combustion plants
  • specific emission limits for certain pollutants: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust
  • rules to monitor another pollutant: carbon monoxide

There are different deadlines to apply the emission limits:

  • for bigger existing plants (5-50 MW): from 2025
  • for smaller existing ones (1-5 MW): from 2030
  • for new plants: after a transposition period of two years following entry into force
  • extended compliance deadlines until 2030 may be granted to some plants (district heating systems, plants firing biomass as their main fuel, plants in small isolated systems and plants linked to a national gas transmission system)


The Commission submitted its proposal to the Council and the European Parliament on 18 December 2013 as part of the 'Clean Air Programme for Europe'. The Council closed a general approach on the proposal on 17 December 2014 and it reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament in a trilogue meeting on 23 June 2015.   

The European Parliament adopted its position at first reading reflecting the agreement on 7 October 2015. With the approval of the Council as a point without discussion during its meeting on 10 November 2015, the new directive is adopted