EU ministers agree watered-down position on vehicle emissions

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union ministers agreed on Monday to water down an initial European Commission proposal on new vehicle commissions after eight states including France and Italy said the changes could divert investment from the electric vehicle industry.

The European Union has been progressively tightening road vehicle emission limits since 1992, and the Commission’s latest proposed rules, called “Euro 7”, were to introduce new standards on particle emissions from brakes and tyres.

Italy, the Czech Republic, France and five other states pushed for weaker rules, however, on concerns that the proposed limits on pollutants such as nitrous oxides in combustion engines would divert development work and investment away from electric vehicle (EV) cars.

Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, presented a compromise text that the Council of the European Union, the grouping of EU ministers, agreed on.

The Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission must now negotiate a final agreement on the new regulations.

“We believe that, with this proposal, we achieved broad support, a balance in the investment costs of the manufacturing brands and we improve the environmental benefits derived from this regulation,” said Spain’s Héctor Gómez Hernández, acting minister for industry, trade and tourism.

The EU countries agreed not to change the existing “Euro 6” test conditions and emissions limits for cars and vans, although they will be lower for buses and heavy vehicles. They also accepted new particle emissions limits for brakes and tyres.

Italian Industry Minister Adolfo Urso welcomed the agreement.

“The new regulation, at Italian request, makes it possible to safeguard the automotive supply chain of small-volume manufacturers, the high range typical of Italian production such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, symbols of ‘Made in Italy’ that produce around 50,000 cars a year,” he said.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Hugh Lawson)