28th Nov 2023

MEPs approve watered-down car emissions, after Renew U-turn

  • MEPs backed a text that keeps passenger car exhaust pollutants at the current level (Photo: Andreas Christen)
Listen to article

MEPs in the environment committee approved new emissions rules for cars on Thursday (12 October), with the final text weaker than the EU Commission initially had intended.

The so-called Euro 7 emissions standards, planned and researched since 2018, and the recently agreed regulation for CO2 standards for cars and vans, were meant to ensure cleaner vehicles on our roads and lower toxic emissions from exhaust pipes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Stricter norms now apply to particle emissions stemming from brake pads and tyres. And a 60-percent reduction requirement of toxic NOx emissions for heavy-duty vehicles was also included.

But stricter exhaust limits for passenger cars, which formed the heart of the initial commission proposal, didn't make it, following a last-minute U-turn from the liberal Renew Europe group, who backed a text that keeps passenger car pollutants at the current level.

An amendment to include so-called e-fuels in the text was also rejected.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and the rightwing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) had always opposed a further tightening of consumer vehicle pollution standards, but it was unclear until today what way the ball would drop.

The centre-left Socialists & Democrats group (S&D) and the Greens had pushed for stricter rules for passenger cars, arguing that these cars would be on the road for decades. But this effort was blocked on Thursday when Renew sided with the conservatives.

"For Renew Europe, the horizon is clear: we are committed to supporting the Green Deal," said Renew shadow rapporteur Susana Solís Pérez on Thursday, but added that by 2030 "most cars" sold on the market will be zero-emission electric vehicles.

Therefore, Renew thinking goes, it makes more sense to focus on trucks and tyre particle emissions, which will continue to be released by electric vehicles.

But according to Green MEP Michael Bloss, parliament "has dropped the ball on protecting people's health and making the European automotive industry future-proof."

"The future belongs to brands that fuse environment and technology," he said, pointing out that "even Bosch, the world's largest auto supplier," has been lobbying for stricter limits.

But car manufacturers have pushed back hard against stricter emission regulations for passenger cars, arguing extra costs would put them at a disadvantage in fending off growing competition from US and Chinese-made electric vehicles.

BMW boss Oliver Zipse previously described the implementation of the stricter Euro 7 rules as "entirely unfeasible."

But the European NGO Transport & Environment recently rejected that argument and pointed out that Europe's five biggest car makers, which includes BMW, made over €64bn euros and paid out €27bn to their shareholders. "Profits matter more to them than the health of Europeans," the NGO said in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday.

"The text urgently needs a makeover in the negotiations between Council and Parliament," said Bloss.

EU climate body sets 2040 emissions target

The EU climate advisory board has recommended a net emissions-reduction target of at least 90 percent by 2040 (on 1990 levels) in order to deliver on the climate neutrality goal by 2050.

Musk's Tesla problem in Sweden — how a strike snowballed

Tesla is facing combined opposition from its Swedish employees, trade unions and even companies in the industry itself. A small industrial dispute over the rejection of a collective agreement has snowballed in little over a month.


Will EU climate chief Hoekstra come clean before COP28?

As the new EU climate commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra, heads to COP28, three senior MEPs question his ties to the fossil-fuel industry — and call for him to disclose all his ties while working for 11 years for McKinsey.

Latest News

  1. People-smuggling profits at historic high, EU concedes
  2. EU bets big on fossil hydrogen and carbon storage
  3. How centre-right conservatives capitulate to the far-right
  4. My experience trying to negotiate with Uber
  5. Key battlegrounds in EU's new media legislation
  6. EU 'shocked' by Israel's war-time settler surge
  7. Platform workers could face 'robo-firing' under EU's AI rules
  8. Wilders faces tough road to power, despite election triumph

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  2. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  4. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  5. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  2. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  5. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  6. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us