Poland and a handful of other coal-dependent countries opposed the plans, which further limit nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, particulates and other emissions.
For Poland, the decision means expensive new measures to limit its pollution levels at coal-fired power plants and large combustion plants.
“Adapting to the new emissions rules could cost Polish businesses around PLN 10 billion,” Polish Deputy Environment Minister Paweł Sałek said.
“We do not agree to such an approach,” he added.
A spokesman for Poland’s environment ministry criticised the voting system used, saying: “It is surprising that countries which do not have brown coal decide how other countries, which have this resource, can use it.”
“Our voice … was overlooked,” he added.
But Enrico Brivio, a spokesman for the European Commission, said: "Air pollution is the prime environmental cause of premature death in the European Union," about 400,000 annually.
He added that big plants are responsible for a large proportion of air pollution in the EU.
All of the European Union’s 2,900 power plants are expected to adjust to the new limits by 2021.
But modernising Poland’s plants in such a short time frame could threaten Poland’s electricity supply, the country’s deputy environment minister said.