Decision time for EU CO2 from cars deal

Commission to respond to car makers' "final" offer on fuel efficiency improvement

European Commissioners will decide on Wednesday whether or not to approve the latest offer from European car makers to voluntarily cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars.

The European car manufacturers' association (Acea) said today that it had submitted to the Commission a "final" version of its offer for a voluntary plan to produce more fuel efficient cars. Acea is hoping that the Commission will recommend the plan to EU environment ministers who are due to make a final decision on the matter at their meeting in Brussels on 16 June.

Acea had already offered to reduce average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars to 140 grams per kilometre (g/km) by 2008, compared with the current average of over 180g/km (ENDS Daily 11 March) - an amount that ministers judged basically acceptable at their last meeting in March. Then ministers listed a range of issues that Acea would have to address in more detail to make the voluntary agreement acceptable.

The key issues included whether there should be intermediate targets for CO2 reductions, and condition demanded by Acea on improving fuel quality and the status of cars made outside the EU. Camille Blum, secretary general of Acea, told ENDS Daily that the new draft addressed all the major issues mentioned by the ministers. "Nothing is outstanding," he said today. "We now have to know what the Commission will do."

A Commission official said that Acea might still chose to alter its "final" offer if the Commission found it unacceptable in its current form. Although he refused to speculate on the chances of the Commission recommending the offer, he said that there "would not be unqualified endorsement".

He added that the Commission might choose to recommend the offer with certain reservations if it did not meet every criterion. "Acea might want to make some changes in response to the comments from the Commission," he said.

Mr Blum admitted that although the "final" offer had been submitted today, there were "a few details" which still needed to be looked at - effectively giving the organisation some room for manoeuvre.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111; Acea, tel: +32 2 732 5550.

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