Euro car efficiency labelling plan debated

Commission proposal welcomed; Voynet calls for major extension of EU controls

At an EU Environment Council dominated by the issues of climate change and the voluntary agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars (see separate articles in this issue), environment ministers also found time to hold a public debate on two related proposals from the European Commission.

Both dossiers were proposed by the Commission in early September to complement the voluntary agreement with ACEA (ENDS Daily 4 September). The car makers have agreed to voluntarily reach average CO2 emissions of 140 grams per kilometre by 2008, but this falls short of the EU's target of 120g/km by 2005.

To help bridge the gap, the Commission proposed one measure to require monitoring of CO2 emissions from new cars, and another to require car dealers to give information to consumers on car fuel consumption in the same way as is currently mandatory for some household appliances.

During a televised discussion, all countries welcomed the Commission's proposals. Ministers went on to suggest a range of amendments they would like to see.

Represented by an official rather than a minister following its general election, Germany said the proposal to produce a booklet for each car showing details of fuel consumption would be too costly. The official said the price tag would be Ecu3-10m and that in this light the consumer information proposal should be reconsidered.

Other countries suggested extending rather than cutting back on the Commission's labelling proposal. Finland said that consumer information requirement should be extended in future to cover used cars. This idea was also supported by Italy. Dominique Voynet of France said that labelling should also cover hire cars.

Ms Voynet went on to say that EU CO2 monitoring rules should cover "alternative fuelled" vehicles such as gas and electric-driven cars as well as petrol and diesel models.

She also suggested other means that the EU should consider to reduce traffic CO2 emissions. These included a harmonised speed limit which, if enforced, could cut emissions by up to 5%, she said. The minister also called for a harmonised fuel tax to make it possible to have EU-wide fiscal incentives to change consumer behaviour, and an undertaking from lorry manufacturers to reduce CO2 emissions from their vehicles.

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111.

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