In this study we present a dynamic model evaluation of chemistry transport model LOTOS-EUROS (LOng Term Ozone Simulation – EURopean Operational Smog) to analyse the ability of the model to reproduce observed non-linear responses to emission changes and interannual variability of secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA) and its precursors over Europe from 1990 to 2009. The 20 year simulation was performed using a consistent set of meteorological data provided by RACMO2 (Regional Atmospheric Climate MOdel). Observations at European rural background sites have been used as a reference for the model evaluation. To ensure the consistency of the used observational data, stringent selection criteria were applied, including a comprehensive visual screening to remove suspicious data from the analysis. The LOTOS-EUROS model was able to capture a large part of the seasonal and interannual variability of SIA and its precursors' concentrations. The dynamic evaluation has shown that the model is able to simulate the declining trends observed for all considered sulfur and nitrogen components following the implementation of emission abatement strategies for SIA precursors over Europe. Both the observations and the model show the largest part of the decline in the 1990s, while smaller concentration changes and an increasing number of non-significant trends are observed and modelled between 2000 and 2009. Furthermore, the results confirm former studies showing that the observed trends in sulfate and total nitrate concentrations from 1990 to 2009 are lower than the trends in precursor emissions and precursor concentrations. The model captured well these non- linear responses to the emission changes. Using the LOTOS-EUROS source apportionment module, trends in the formation efficiency of SIA have been quantified for four European regions. The exercise has revealed a 20–50% more efficient sulfate formation in 2009 compared to 1990 and an up to 20% more efficient nitrate formation per unit nitrogen oxide emission, which added to the explanation of the non-linear responses. However, we have also identified some weaknesses in the model and the input data. LOTOS-EUROS underestimates the observed nitrogen dioxide concentrations throughout the whole time period, while it overestimates the observed nitrogen dioxide concentration trends. Moreover, model results suggest that the emission information of the early 1990s used in this study needs to be improved concerning magnitude and spatial distribution.