EU set to weaken new car, truck pollution rules

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -New European Union pollution rules for combustion engine cars and trucks are set to be less ambitious than originally planned, after lawmakers voted on Thursday to delay and weaken some of the regulations.

The EU’s proposed “Euro 7” law would tighten limits on health-harming pollutants from combustion engine cars. The European Commission, which drafts new EU laws, has said the health benefits would far outweigh the costs.

However, EU countries and lawmakers – which are in charge of negotiating the final law in the coming months – have each agreed to weaken the rules.

The European Parliament approved its negotiating position on Thursday.

Lawmakers voted to keep the Commission’s proposal on nitrous oxides (NOx), particulate matter and carbon monoxide limits for cars. But they weakened NOx limits for trucks, and delayed when the rules will apply – for cars, to three years after all secondary legislation associated with the proposal is passed.

The Commission wanted the rules to apply from 2025.

“The senseless proposal of the [European Commission] will be fundamentally changed,” Alexandr Vondra, EU Parliament’s lead lawmaker on the rules, said in a post on social media platform X.

Green lawmakers criticised the vote as a missed chance to reduce the roughly 70,000 premature deaths per year in Europe attributed to vehicle pollution.

“The EU is missing the opportunity to be the future leader in green technology,” Green EU lawmaker Bas Eickhout added.

Italy’s Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said the vote confirmed a “new political majority” in Europe on green policies.

“Reason prevails over ideology,” he said.

The EU has among the world’s most ambitious climate policies, and has passed recent green laws with majority support. However, some faced strong political pushback – from governments seeking to weaken pollution controls for farms and lawmakers attempting to kill off new measures to protect nature.

Carmakers and countries including Italy and the Czech Republic had argued the original Euro 7 rules would have been too costly. They say since the EU already has a deadline to end sales of new CO2-emitting cars in 2035, it would be better to focus investment on producing electric vehicles rather than improving combustion engine cars’ environmental impact.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; additional reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Sharon Singleton)