Labour MEPs do not back watered-down Euro 7 emissions rules

Euro 7 rules include lower exhaust emissions limits for buses and trucks, new measures to limit particle emissions from tyres and brakes and to increase battery durability

File photo
File photo

MEPs have given the green light to new EU rules to reduce emissions from passenger cars, vans, buses, trucks and trailers.

With 297 votes in favour, 190 against and 37 abstentions, Parliament adopted the deal reached with the Council, on the Euro 7 regulation: vehicles will need to comply with the new standards for longer, ensuring they remain cleaner throughout their lifetime.

A group of socialists and greens, as well the Left, did not vote in favour: they included Labour MEPs Alex Agius Saliba, Cyrus Engerer, and Alfred Sant. Nationalist MEP David Casa voted in favour.

“We have successfully struck a balance between environmental goals and the vital interests of manufacturers,” said Czech rapporteur Alexandr Vondra (ECR), whose report was backed by the EPP and Renew.

“We want to ensure the affordability of new smaller cars with internal combustion engines for domestic customers and at the same time enable the automotive industry to prepare for the expected transformation of the sector. The EU will now also be addressing emissions from brakes and tyres and ensuring higher battery durability.”

Council still needs to formally approve the agreement as well before it can enter into force.

The Euro 7 regulation is the latest in a series of standards that set permissible levels of air pollution from cars, vans, buses and trucks in a bid to improve air quality. For the first time, in addition to tailpipe emissions such as particulates and nitrogen oxides, the regulation will cover microplastics from tyres and particles from brakes – two sources of vehicle pollution that will continue after the switch to electric mobility.

But despite calls from socialist and green MEPs to strengthen the pollution emission standards for passenger cars, lawmakers ultimately backed levels in line with the Commission’s original proposal.

EPP, ECR and Renew lawmakers were wary of forcing companies to significantly retool combustion engine vehicles, arguing that this would push up the cost of new cars for consumers.

MEPs did agree to stricter limits on exhaust emissions measured in laboratory settings, and in real driving conditions for buses and heavy-duty vehicles

Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP with the Greens, blasted the Parliament’s position as “incomprehensible” back in February. “Under heavy pressure from the car industry, conservative parties have weakened the standards, so that they barely improve compared to the current rules,” he said in a statement. “They are playing with the health of millions of Europeans and getting away with it.”

Automakers’ lobby group ACEA said MEPs had adopted “a more realistic approach” to Euro 7 compared to what the European Commission put forward but rued the heavy price tag of the new rules. “It comes in an extraordinarily challenging geopolitical and economic context, marked by soaring energy prices, supply chain shortages, inflationary pressures, and lagging consumer demand,” the lobby said.

Clean mobility NGO Transport & Environment branded it “worse than useless”, arguing that the updated law should be renamed “Euro 6F” as it does little to improve upon its predecessor. “Car companies will use [Euro 7] to greenwash cars that are hardly any cleaner than today. Lawmakers should have the decency to rename it Euro 6F or withdraw it.”

Reducing emissions, increasing battery durability

For passenger cars and vans, the current Euro 6 test conditions and exhaust emissions limits will be maintained. For buses and trucks, stricter limits will be applied for exhaust emissions measured in laboratories and in real driving conditions, while maintaining the current Euro VI testing conditions.

For the first time, EU standards will include brake particles emissions limits (PM10) for cars and vans and minimum performance requirements for battery durability in electric and hybrid cars.

An Environmental Vehicle Passport will be made available for each vehicle and contain information on its environmental performance at the moment of registration (such as pollutant emission limits, CO2 emissions, fuel and electric energy consumption, electric range, battery durability). Vehicle users will also have access to up-to-date information about fuel consumption, battery health, pollutant emissions and other relevant information generated by on-board systems and monitors.

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