Good news for the car industry, bad news for lung patients: a proposal for additional requirements for the sustainability and emissions of new passenger cars has been significantly watered down today by the European Ministers of Economic Affairs. Against the wishes of the Netherlands.
The introduction date for the so-called Euro 7 standard will go from 2025 to 2030. In addition, the requirements for emissions via the exhaust of the combustion engine remain the same. Rules for stricter testing methods to check whether cars meet the manufacturer’s specifications have been pushed aside. The rules for the pollution that may be released when braking and through the wear of tires on the road surface and those for the lifespan of cars will be tightened, but only from 2030.
“This is a step in the right direction,” left the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) said in a response. “The Member States’ position is an improvement over the European Commission’s Euro 7 proposal – which was completely disproportionate and entailed high costs for industry and customers, and only limited benefits for the environment,” said Sigrid de Vries, Director General of ACEA.
Shortness of breath
“Extremely disappointing,” says the Longfonds, the foundation that is committed to a world where people can breathe freely. “Road traffic is one of the largest causes of health damage due to air pollution, and air pollution causes 12,000 premature deaths in the Netherlands every year. In 20 percent of children with asthma, their disease is caused by traffic-related air pollution,” a spokesperson said. “Air pollution leads to worsening health problems, such as increased shortness of breath, reduced lung function and even lung attacks. Postponing measures to reduce emissions reduction is therefore directly at the expense of our health.”
This time the debate was not about greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, but about the emissions of substances such as particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide that contribute to air pollution. According to the European Commission, the number of deaths from air pollution from traffic across the European Union is up to 70,000 per year. That is why the EU’s ‘executive management’ proposed at the end of last year to tighten the existing standard that has been in place for ten years, Euro 6.
There has been fierce resistance to Euro 7 in the car industry for some time now. The necessary adjustments to the fuel engine would make new cars up to 2,000 euros more expensive for consumers. Producing affordable, more compact cars would become even less profitable for manufacturers. Furthermore, new rules would be inconvenient, because they also have to invest heavily in the switch to electric cars, the car manufacturers argued. From 2035, cars with petrol and diesel engines will no longer be allowed to be sold in the EU.
Eight Member States (France, Italy, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) had those arguments taken over and already announced that they would not agree to the planned stricter emission standards.
The Netherlands was in favor of the tightening. “We would have liked more ambition,” said outgoing Minister of Economic Affairs Micky Adriaansens afterwards. “If you’re going to set rules, you also have to make sure they’re about something. This has too little effect, for example in inner cities.” She expressed her disappointment during the meeting. “The latest Euro 7 proposal does not guarantee low emissions for vehicles sold in the coming decades. So let us remember that our choices today will determine the future of our industry and our environment.”
Vehicle standards have been proven to be effective, ensure a level playing field for all providers on the market in an economic sense and promote innovation, according to the Netherlands.
The Spanish presidency of the meeting “has been sensitive to the different demands and requests of the Member States”, the Spanish Minister for Industry and Trade, Héctor Gómez Hernández himself said on Monday after the meeting. “We believe that this proposal, which has received broad support, has achieved a balance between manufacturers’ investment costs and environmental benefits.”
The outcome is not yet final: this is now the position of the Member States. They will discuss this with the European Parliament in the coming months and the final new standard will then be drawn up.
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