The VOC Solvents Emissions Directive (1999/13/EC) regulates the emissions of volatile organic compounds from a wide range of industrial activities. Among these are printing, surface cleaning, vehicle coating, dry cleaning and manufacture of footwear and pharmaceutical products. It sets emission limit values for the installations in which such activities are applied. These could be limit values for VOC in waste gases or maximum levels of fugitive emissions (expressed as percentage of solvent input) or total emission limit values. In addition, in the Directive a reduction scheme is introduced which allows the operator to achieve emission reduction by other means, such as changing to solvent-free production processes or the use of solvents with lower VOC content.

The Directive has been in force for new installations since its publication in 1999; existing installations have to comply since 31 October 2007. Member States which had to include the Directive in national legislation are obliged to report periodically on the implementation of the Directive.

It should be noted that the scope of the Directive does not include painting activities. These are regulated separately by the VOC Paints Directive (2004/42/EC).

The Solvent Directive is, together with five more Directives, considered for inclusion in the proposal of the Commission for a new which is presently being discussed.