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EU Set to Weaken Euro 7 Pollution Standards After Parliament Vote

The European Parliament joined the European Council in approving a weaker version of the rules. The two EU bodies will now negotiate with the European Commission on the final text.

 The European Parliament has approved its negotiating position for the Euro 7 pollution rules, adopting a position that is less ambitious than the original proposal following pressure from countries and automakers.

The parliament will now enter into “trilogue” negotiations over the final document with the European Commission and the European Council, which includes top ministers from EU countries. Approval could come as early as the start of 2024, with the regulations going into effect no earlier than 2026 for passenger cars and 2027 for heavy trucks.

Euro 7 would replace the current Euro 6 standard, which governs emissions of health-harming pollutants from combustion engine cars. The commission, which drafts EU laws, has said the health benefits would far outweigh the costs.

Carmakers and countries including Italy and the Czech Republic have argued the original rules proposed by the commission 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.

Lawmakers on Thursday voted to keep the commission’s proposal for limits on pollution from cars, including nitrous oxides (NOx), particulate matter and carbon monoxide. That proposal, released in November 2022, essentially retains the limits from Euro 6, but also includes for the first time limits on particulate emissions from brakes and tires.

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 had wanted the rules to apply from 2025.

EU countries, in the form of the council, and lawmakers in the parliament have each agreed to weaken the rules. The council voted in September to extend most existing Euro 6 test conditions and emissions limits for cars and vans, although they will be lower for buses and heavy vehicles. 

Auto lobby backs Parliament, Council

ACEA, the European automakers’ lobbying group, on Thursday said the parliament’s position was “a more realistic approach to Euro 7” than the commission’s original proposal. “Euro 7 still comes with a heavy price tag and at a very critical juncture in the industry’s transformation,” the group said. 

Environmental group Transport & Environment on Thursday described the parliament’s position on Euro 7 as “worse than useless.” 

“The EU Parliament backed a so-called ‘Euro 7’ standard that fails to significantly increase air pollution protections beyond its Euro 6 predecessor,” the group said.

Alexandr Vondra, the parliament’s lead lawmaker on the rules and a member of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists group, said the decision on Thursday was good for motorists and a “major defeat” for Green and Socialist lawmakers who had sought stricter rules.

Green lawmakers criticized 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,” said Bas Eickhout, a Green EU lawmaker.

Source : ANE