• MEPs capitulate on deadlines, targets and penalties on fuel efficiency deal

    The EU has concluded its long-running negotiations on the directive on carbon dioxide emissions from cars, but the final compromise was only reached after concessions on several fronts, prompting T&E to say 'precious little will change in the short term.'

    Representatives of national governments and MEPs agreed earlier this month to force the 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre limit on 65% of new cars from 2012, 75% from 2013, 80% from 2014 and all by 2015. But with various ‘loopholes’, the target for new cars for 2015 is in effect around 140 g/km.

    The agreed deal also includes reduced penalties for non-compliance and a reviewable target for 2020.

    The Commission had proposed penalties starting at €20 for every g/km above the limits, rising to €95. Following severe pressure from the Italian government, the starting level has been reduced to €5. A target of 95 g/km has been set for 2020, but this is dependent on an impact assessment and review by 2013, which many fear will lead to another round of diluting targets similar to the round just ending.

    And car makers will be allowed to count certain ‘eco-innovations’ as part of their emissions reduction, something environmental groups were strongly opposed to.


    Predictably, the car makers said the legislation was very tough, industry representatives said it was a satisfactory compromise, and environmental groups said it was a capitulation to outdated technology.

    Ivan Hodac of the car makers’ association Acea described it as ‘an extremely tough piece of legislation, posing huge challenges to the automotive industry’.

    T&E director Jos Dings said: ‘The purpose of this law should have been to fundamentally alter the direction of the car industry in the long term by setting a clear roadmap for cutting emissions in half. In the end, precious little will change in the short term, and the language on the long-term targets is not enough to guarantee that car makers will invest now in the technology needed to make the required leap.’

    ‘The European Parliament’s role in this issue has been a case of unfulfilled promise. At various stages, MEPs have voted for tougher targets, including in a report published late last month, but when it came to the ‘trialogue’ negotiations to find a compromise, MEPs capitulated on the targets, the deadlines for meeting them, the penalties for non-compliance, and allowing eco-innovations. Their actions have not matched their rhetoric.’


    In a separate development, EU finance ministers have approved another €5 billion of cheap loans for the car industry to come from the European Investment Bank. The EIB denies these are subsidies, even though they are loans at a level of interest not available to other industries. The stated aim is to encourage the car industry to develop ‘greener’ cars, though developing such cars is not a condition for receiving money from these loans.