Carmakers get a pollution break after fierce lobbying in Brussels

Carmakers get a pollution break after fierce lobbying in Brussels

POLITICO — 2022-10-20

News from Brussels

The European Commission will likely not demand a dramatic reduction in pollution emitted by cars in its upcoming Euro 7 standard, according to draft legislation obtained by POLITICO.

The draft rules — setting limits for non-CO2 pollution — suggest setting emissions standards for cars and vans at the same level as those now in place for gasoline-powered cars under the existing Euro 6 standard.

That's a huge win for the car industry, which won't have to make big investments over the coming decade in cutting pollution in the next generation of internal combustion engine cars — a technology that's due to be phased out by 2035 under new rules currently being negotiated.

"In light of the current geopolitical and economic circumstance, a final review has been made," the Commission said in the introductory impact assessment to its draft Euro 7 legislation, citing the industry's increased energy and raw materials cost burden.

"This puts ... unprecedented pressure on the automotive supply chain and raises affordability issues for consumers, in an overall context of high inflation," the draft says.

As a result, the EU executive said it is moving to "minimise" the costs associated with asking the industry to develop cleaner engine technology, given that it is already close to setting a zero emissions sales mandate for new cars and vans from 2035 as part of separate CO2 standards legislation.

The car industry is lobbying against the new Euro 7 rules, arguing it will levy onerous new costs at the same time as automakers are investing in electric vehicles.

"From an industry perspective, we don't need Euro 7, as it will be drawing resources we should be spending on electrification," Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said at this week's Paris Auto Show, adding: "Why use scarce resources for something for a short period of time? The industry doesn't need it, and it's counterproductive."

But the Commission draft is dismaying clean car campaigners.

"The auto industry lobby has fiercely opposed Euro 7," said Anna Krajinska from green NGO Transport & Environment. "Now the Commission has caved into their demands. Carmakers’ profits are being prioritized over the health of millions of Europeans."

The Euro 7 rules have been in development for four years and are already significantly delayed. They will expand the remit of the pollutant rules to cover fine particulate matter, along with particles from tires and brakes and pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. They will also tackle battery durability.

The rules are due to be published on 9 November.