Although the United States and the European Union have for many years pursued different approaches on the issues of air quality and climate change, those strategies are now beginning to intersect. Their policy objectives are increasingly similar, and they can learn much from each other’s experience with regulation, market incentives, and enforcement. Today, transatlantic cooperation could be enormously beneficial in developing new technologies and new regulatory frameworks, and in reaching out to developing countries, such as China and India.

These were the primary conclusions of a meeting of U.S. and European experts on air quality convened on February 5 and 6, 2007, by the Atlantic Council of the United States, the European Policy Center, and the US Mission to the European Union. The experts included policymakers from government institutions and regulatory agencies (including not only the US and EU, but also EU member states), as well as representatives of the business community, academe, and the non-profit sector from both sides of the Atlantic. The conference’s primary aim was to improve understanding among US and European experts of existing and planned clean air policies—including the regulatory treatment of several key pollutants—and the impact of these policies on air quality. By jointly assessing policies and actions in the United States and the EU, it should be possible to identify areas of convergence and divergence. This in turn will help determine opportunities for increased transatlantic cooperation in addressing the serious environmental consequences associated with changes in air quality.

During the conference, experts reviewed the major policy objectives behind air quality laws and regulations, and also discussed their perceptions of strengths and weaknesses in the control of major pollutants. They reviewed the potential role of new technologies in improving air quality and reducing the impact of global climate change, and found increasing agreement in outlook