EU countries debate weakened new car emissions proposal – document

By Julia Payne and Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU countries are debating a compromise draft for new emissions regulations on combustion engine vehicles that waters down limits, monitoring and delays the start date for the cuts, a document showed on Wednesday.

The European Union has been progressively tightening road vehicle emission limits since the first set of regulations, known as “Euro 1”, in 1992. The Commission proposed the latest set of rules, “Euro 7”, in November last year.

European carmakers have been arguing against Euro 7, saying it is too costly and the environmental gains would be negligible. They argue with sales of new CO2-emitting cars due to be banned in 2035, it would be better to focus investment on boosting electric vehicle production to meet that future demand.

Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, was hoping to present the compromise draft at the competitiveness council next week, but the countries have not yet agreed, diplomatic sources said.

In the draft presented by Spain, the implementation deadlines of mid-2025 for cars and mid-2027 for trucks would be pushed back. Cars and small trucks will now only have to comply 24 months after the regulation comes into force and 48 months for buses and trucks over 3.5 tonnes.

France, Italy and the Czech Republic were among eight countries pushing to weaken the new EU emissions limits.

The draft document said some countries had requested the weaker rules, without naming them.

“These delegations took the view that the relationship between investment costs and environmental benefits arising from the proposed regulation would be disproportionate,” the draft text said.

“They expressed concerns about significant development capacity and investment required on top of that already being put into electrification and overall benefits to be gained from the proposed approach.”

Clean transport NGO, Transport and Environment, criticised the draft saying countries had “caved into automaker threats…condemning people to avoidable ill health and premature death for decades to come”.

“In this new proposal by the Spanish Presidency: Emission limits for cars have been weakened. No change in emission limits for cars and vans compared to Euro 6, even for diesel which is allowed to emit more NOx (nitrous oxide) pollution than petrol,” the NGO wrote on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Julia Payne and Kate Abnett; Editing by Sharon Singleton)