So far, three directives have been proposed prescribing new
emission limits for specified classes of vehicles and associated
testing and on-board diagnostic requirements. These concern
passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy duty vehicles.
A fourth directive would set new fuel specifications for petrol and
diesel, including limits for sulphur, benzene and other aromatic
compounds. This legislation would also require the development of
alternative fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas, compressed
natural gas and biofuels. The new standards prescribed by these
directives would apply from 2000.
The directives are currently at different stages in
the adoption process. Common Positions have been adopted on the
fuel quality and passenger car emissions directives and these have
now had their second reading in the European Parliament. As the
Parliament has reinstated many of the amendments put forward at the
first reading that were not included in the Common Positions, it is
very likely that the Council will not accept these and the
proposals will go to conciliation. The directives are on the agenda
for the March 1998 Environment Council meeting. The light
commercial vehicles proposal has just completed the first reading
stage. The legislation on emissions from heavy goods vehicles was
only proposed by the Commission at the beginning of December 1997.
It is likely that the adoption of these proposals will be given a
high priority by the EU institutions.
A fifth development concerns the adoption of a
negotiated agreement between the Commission and the vehicle
industry sector on a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
from passenger cars. A 1995 Communication set a target of reducing
carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars to 120g/km by
2005, that is consumption of 5 litres of petrol per 100 km or 4.5
litres of diesel per 100 km. The vehicle industry considers that
this target is unrealistic although the Commission recognises that
the objective cannot be reached by an industry agreement alone. The
Environment Commissioner, Ritt Bjerregaard, has threatened to draft
a directive if an agreement is not negotiated by mid March 1998.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association has submitted new
proposals to reduce emissions to 140g/km by 2008. It is not yet
clear whether these will be accepted by the Commission.
The Commission intends to propose two other pieces
of legislation to support the negotiated agreement during the first
half of 1998. A directive would establish a standardised labelling
system for new cars to indicate their fuel efficiency with the aim
of developing a market for such vehicles and a decision would
require data on the fuel efficiency of registered vehicles to be
provided by regulatory authorities to the Commission. This would
then be used to compile information on carbon dioxide emissions
from vehicles throughout the EU.