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You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Noise / Policy context

Policy context

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Since 2002, an overarching Environmental Noise Directive provides a common basis for tackling noise across the European Union. Its main aim is to avoid, prevent or reduce the harmful effects of noise exposure.

Noise emissions from vehicles and machinery have been regulated in EU for decades. It was in the 1990s however, when regulation of human exposure to noise first started to develop. The 6th environment action programme of the European Community 2002–2012 aims at  “…substantially reducing the number of people regularly affected by long-term average levels of noise, in particular from traffic, which, according to scientific studies, cause detrimental effects on human health…”.

In the same year, the Environmental Noise Directive was adopted. It provided a common basis for tackling noise across the EU. The Member States should identify hotspots where noise will be mapped and for which action plans should be made. Countries should also inform the public and the Commission about these activities. The hotspots where noise-mapping and action-planning are to be carried out are around major agglomerations and alongside major roads, railways and airports.

Noise exposure is also integrated into other EU policies such as in the thematic strategy on urban environment, the Common Transport Policy and the Sustainable Development Strategy.

In 2004, the Commission published an overview of all relevant European legislation and standards on noise emissions.

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