MEPs call again for tighter Auto/Oil controls

Parliamentary rapporteurs demand stricter car exhaust emissions, fuel quality, standards

The European Parliament looks set to relaunch efforts to tighten proposed EU directives on motor vehicle exhaust emissions and fuel quality, following a meeting of its environment committee today. Strict limits demanded by the Parliament but rejected by the Council of Ministers in its June common position on the EU Auto/Oil programme are now being re-introduced.

In their common position, EU environment ministers agreed a legislative package stricter in several ways than that originally proposed by the European Commission (ENDS Daily 20 June). But for Finnish Green MEP Heidi Hautala, who is the Parliament's new rapporteur (draftsman) for the fuel quality directive, the agreement remains "far from...satisfactory".

Ms Hautala is re-tabling many amendments proposed by the full Parliament at its first reading (ENDS Daily 10 April). These include a demand for sulphur in petrol and diesel to be limited to 100 parts per million (ppm) and 200ppm respectively by 2000. In June, environment ministers agreed limits of 150ppm and 350ppm.

The MEP also wants the "indicative," or non-binding limit of 50ppm sulphur agreed by ministers for 2005 to be made mandatory. "Indicative figures are not credible," Ms Hautala said today. "In order to improve air quality and for industry to plan its investments in good time, it is necessary to make these 2005 values mandatory."

The proposals would further increase compliance costs for EU industries. A Commission official told MEPs today that changes made by Council had already added Ecu14bn to the cost of the proposal and that the Parliament's first reading amendments would add another Ecu20-30bn to the bill.

Other changes proposed by Mrs Hautala include stricter limits on hydrocarbons, measures to encourage the use of cleaner diesel and oxygenated fuels and an extension of the derogation on the leaded fuels ban from 2003 to 2005.

German socialist Bernd Lange, the Parliament's rapporteur on the car exhaust emissions directive, is also re-tabling several amendments. Most of the Parliament's demands were rejected by environment ministers in June, including tighter limit values for exhaust pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. Even the amendments Council did accept - on cold-start tests and on-board diagnostics - are "faulty" according to Mr Lange.

A second report by Mr Lange - on emissions from light commercial vehicles - had its first airing in the environment committee today, but sparked little interest from MEPs. Other than marginally stricter limits for particulates and hydrocarbons and binding rather than indicative standards for 2005, Mr Lange is proposing few changes to the Commission's proposal and the report is not expected to be arouse much controversy.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: + 32 2 284 2111.

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