EU member states weaken proposal setting new emission standards for cars and vans

BRUSSELS — European Union member countries have watered down a proposal by the bloc’s executive arm aimed at lowering vehicle emissions.

The European Commission had proposed last year updated pollution standards for new combustion engine vehicles that are expected to remain on European roads well after the 27-nation bloc bans their sale in 2035, with the aim of lowering emissions from tailpipes, brakes and tires.

The Commission had the expectation that the implementation of new guidelines would result in a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans by 35% in comparison to the current regulations on exhaust emissions for pollutants other than carbon dioxide. Additionally, they aimed for a decrease of 56% in nitrogen oxide emissions from buses and trucks.

However, some EU member states and automakers advocated for less strict legislation and on Monday agreed to a watered-down compromise proposed by Spain, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency.

Member states instead decided to keep existing emissions limits and test conditions for cars and vans, and to lower them only for buses and heavy commercial vehicles. They also agreed to reduce brake particle emissions limits and tire abrasion rate emissions.

The standards are distinct from, but designed to supplement the European Union’s regulations on CO2 emissions in relation to climate change.

Héctor Gómez Hernández, the acting Spanish minister for industry, trade and tourism, stated that the Spanish presidency has been attentive to the various demands and requests of the member states. He believes that the proposal has garnered widespread support, striking a balance in the investment costs for manufacturing brands while also enhancing the environmental advantages resulting from the regulation.

Once lawmakers have defined their stance, the position taken by member countries will be negotiated with the European Parliament.

EU lawmakers and member states last year reached a deal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans by 2035. The deal was part of the bloc’s “Fit for 55” package, which the European Commission set up to achieve the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55% over this decade.

Carmakers will need to decrease the emissions of newly sold cars by 55% in 2030, compared to 2021, and achieve a complete elimination within five years after that.

The Commission believed it was essential to establish fresh pollution regulations for the most recent models of combustion engines. This is because vehicles that are introduced to the market prior to the 2035 deadline will continue to be used for an extended period of time.

The European Union states that the bloc experiences approximately 70,000 premature deaths annually due to emissions from transportation.


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