EU member countries ruled out on Monday September 25 a further tightening of pollution standards on exhaust gases from passenger cars, believing that this risked slowing down manufacturers’ investments in electric vehicles.
Under the leadership of France and Italy in particular, the Twenty-Seven voted in favor of less ambitious regulations than the proposal made by the European Commission in November 2022, in order to preserve the competitiveness of the automobile industry. and its 14 million jobs in the EU.
This text on the Euro 7 standard must apply from 2025, replacing Euro 6, to all passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, regardless of their type of engine. It must still be negotiated with the European Parliament, which has still not defined its position.
The European Commission intended to significantly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and fine particles from vehicles while air pollution is responsible for at least 230,000 deaths each year in the EU, but the industry had deplored the impact of overly strict standards on employment as well as on the price of cars, already less and less accessible for the middle class.
Lowering of emission thresholds for heavy goods vehicles
Adopted on Monday despite opposition from Germany, the proposal from Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year, plans to keep emissions limits almost unchanged and the testing conditions for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, compared to the previous standard. However, it confirms a lowering of emission thresholds for heavy goods vehicles as well as the introduction of limits, set for the first time in Europe, on the emission of particles caused by wear of brakes and tires.
France welcomed the position of the European Council. “Since we decided together to abandon thermal engines, it is not necessarily essential to add regulation” on these engines, explained the Minister for Industry, Roland Lescure.
The European Union has announced the end of sales of new cars with gasoline and diesel engines from 2035, in favor of 100% electric vehicles. This scheduled shutdown of thermal engines should make it possible to reduce CO emissions to zero.2 passenger cars to contribute to the continent’s carbon neutrality objective by 2050.
For the first time in August, the share of electric cars exceeded 20% of total registrations in Europe, which contributes to the fall in exhaust emissions. “We need to begin this transition without imposing a disproportionate burden on businesses. Otherwise, they would no longer be able to invest, which would take us further away from our ecological objective”estimated the Italian Business Minister, Adolfo Urso.
Faced with massive investments to develop their new electric ranges, in formidable competition with Tesla and Chinese manufacturers, companies in the automobile sector want to avoid additional investments in thermal engines which are doomed to disappear anyway.
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Paris and Rome co-signed a text in the spring to oppose a further tightening of pollution standards on exhaust gases from cars and light trucks. This position was notably shared by Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, also signatories.
“The current project is considerably weakened compared to the European Commission’s initial proposal”however deplored the environmentalist German Secretary of State Sven Giegold, pointing out “test conditions and unambitious limit values which are almost at the level of the Euro 6 standard”.
Other countries were on the German line. “Thermal vehicles sold until 2035 will remain in circulation for a very long time”noted Irish Minister Delegate Dara Calleary, according to whom the text does not allow the possibilities of available technologies to be exploited. “The European market risks finding itself lagging behind China, the United States and Canada, where standards are higher”he said.