Van emissions law speeds through EU Parliament

Environment committee reinstates demand for binding emission limits by 2005

The European Parliament's environment committee yesterday approved a second round of amendments to an EU draft law on emissions from light vans, clearing the way for a vote by the full parliament possibly later this month. MEPs hope that the law's speedy progress through parliament will mean that it can be part of negotiations with the Council of Ministers to finalise the package of EU "Auto/Oil" laws.

Sources at the Parliament and the Council told ENDS Daily that they expect to start "pre-conciliation" talks to deal with differences of opinion on two other directives under the package - on fuel quality and emissions from cars - in early May.

Environment ministers reached a common position on the light vans directive last month (ENDS Daily 24 March). While taking on board many of the amendments proposed by the parliament during its first reading of the directive, ministers rejected MEPs' demand that they should set legally binding emissions limit values for vans to be achieved by 2005 in addition to binding limits for 2000. Ministers want only "indicative" limits for 2005.

The environment committee yesterday reinstated this demand. The full Parliament is expected to support it as it backed a similar demand under the directives on fuel quality and emissions from cars. This will mean that this directive will also become subject to conciliation talks.

The Council and the Parliament are each said to be keen for all three directives to be negotiated finally as a package. At last month's meeting, ministers even suggested that the directives on vans and cars could be merged during conciliation talks. It remains to be seen whether the Council is able to deal with the Parliament's latest amendments to the light vans directive in time for the directives to be discussed in parallel.

Socialist MEP Bernd Lange, who has drafted reports for the parliament on both the cars and vans directives, said yesterday: "The objective that I am proposing is one [set of talks] for fuels, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, because it is crazy to tear these three apart." Addressing the environment committee yesterday, he said parliament should "stick to its guns" in pushing for tougher, binding emission limits for 2005.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2860; Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111.

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