In a surprise move, the European Commission today delayed giving its opinion on a new offer from European car makers to voluntarily reduce average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars. The European car manufacturers association (Acea) had expected to be told today whether its offer - which would avoid legislation on cutting CO2 from cars - would be recommended by the Commission to EU ministers. EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said today that despite "substantial progress" made in negotiations with Acea in recent weeks, "there are a number of sticking points where we still have to find a solution". Because of the importance of the availability of cleaner fuel to the performance of cars in the future, the Commission said it would now wait until new EU rules on fuel quality had been fixed under the draft fuel quality directive currently subject to Auto/Oil conciliation negotiations between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. As these talks are scheduled to finish by 29 June, EU environment ministers will not now receive the Commission's recommendation in time for their last meeting under the UK presidency, to be held in two-weeks' time. The Commission said Acea's offer no longer demanded "conditions" but still contained "assumptions" about the state of the vehicle and fuel market of the future. It said further discussions were required to see if the current offer of an average of 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2008 would be enough to enable the EU to reach its target figure of 120 g/km by using other means to encourage the use of more efficient cars.
European Commission: , tel: +32 2 295 1111; Acea, tel: +32 2 732 5550.
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