EU countries agree on watered-down car emissions proposal

Commuters drive in their cars to work in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Tuesday morning, Feb. 27, 2018.
Commuters drive in their cars to work in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Tuesday morning, Feb. 27, 2018. Copyright Martin Meissner/AP
By Sandor Zsiros
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The Euro7 regulation, as it is known, is intended to limit emissions from vehicles, following on from the current Euro6.


European Union member states have agreed to a watered-down version of the bloc's next car emission standards.

Known as Euro7, the standards compel carmakers to reduce CO2 emissions step-by-step in order to fight climate change and improve air quality.

Competitiveness ministers agreed in Brussels on Monday to a proposal presented by the Spanish EU presidency, that essentially sees them bowing to lobbying by the car industry.

In their decision they left the existing Euro6 emission standards for passenger cars unchanged. Countries with large car industries, like the Czech Republic, France and Italy pushed for this, arguing that the sector already had a lot on its plate given the transition to electric cars.

Jozef Síkela, the Minister of Industry and Trade for the Czech Republic said he was pleased with the agreement.

"I have a feeling that it is going in a good direction," he said.

"As I said, we as one of the leaders of the like-minded group, we are aware of the automotive industry, not only for the European economy, but also for the Czech industry.

"Mainly, 10% of the total GDP, more than 20% of the total exports. So we have to be aware about the impact," he added. 

The decision by the Council differs significantly from the proposal put forward by the European Commission last November, which aimed to cut gas emissions significantly to reach some of the strictest standards ever. 

European carmakers had been campaigning against the move saying it would result in additional costs for them and for the consumers as well. Environmental groups have rejected the Council's decision, including Anna Krajinska from the European Federation for Transport and Environment.

"Unfortunately, the Council's position is extremely disappointing when it comes to the standards," she told Euronews.

"Euro7 was an opportunity to reduce the 70,000 deaths caused by road transport every year and for cars, unfortunately, the Council is not improving the limits at all versus Euro6.

"It basically means we will have the same cars, just disguised and greenwashed as Euro7," she said. 

Emission standards for trucks will be slightly lower than before. 

The standards could still be changed as member states now need to negotiate with the European parliament before the regulation can come into force. This is foreseen for 2025.

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