In Parliament, a majority of Christian Democrats, Eurosceptics and Liberals voted in favour of the weakened Euro 7 draft. The law is to update the current limits for exhaust emissions (such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ammonia) and introduce new measures to reduce emissions from tyres and brakes and increase the service life of electric car batteries.
The initial Euro 7 vehicle emissions draft law proposed by the EU Commission in November 2022 had been rather ambitious. It introduced said rules on microplastic and brake abrasion of (electric) cars, so-called non-exhaust emissions for the first time.
However, Parliament has now voted in favour of the Euro 6 limits continuing to apply but without the previous distinction between petrol and diesel cars. The car industry has also been given more time for implementation. The Euro 7 standard should actually apply to vehicles that are newly registered from 2025. The resolution also continues to provide for mild conditions for emissions tests; particularly high-emission scenarios such as a cold start will not be analysed as was envisaged in the Commission’s original proposal.
This is only a partial surprise. The EU Council, a gathering of ministers, had weakened the Euro 7 proposal in September 2023, pushed by the position of eight member states led by Italy, France, and the Czech Republic. They forced changes, so Euro 7 should be within the current Euro 6 standard in exhaust emissions. It also barely improved testing, which ensures that limits are met.
This position has now largely carried over in Parliament. According to a report in Der Spiegel, Brussels insiders suspect a tacit deal between politicians and the car industry. Passages from a lobby email are said to have been reproduced verbatim in an amendment tabled by a Czech liberal, which was seen as a compromise for a majority in Parliament. It is assumed that ambitious requirements for the Euro 7 standard were sacrificed in return for the agreed zero-emission target for new cars from 2035.
Accordingly, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) is delighted with the “more realistic approach” to Euro 7, and behold, it would still come with a “heavy price tag” for the industry.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, believe the watered-down standard will be used to greenwash dirty cars. The EU legislators should at least be honest enough to rename the standard “Euro 6 F”, writes the environmental NGO Transport & Environment (T&E). Anna Krajinska, Vehicle Emissions and Air Quality Manager at T&E said: “The Euro 7 passed today is worse than useless. The last pollution standard that engines will have to meet is a dead letter. Lawmakers should have the decency to rename it Euro 6F or withdraw it.” T&E even said that if lawmakers do not rename the law during negotiations, the EU Commission should exercise its power to withdraw the legislation. The harm caused by greenwashing dirty cars would outweigh any minor advances in Euro 7.
“The Euro 7 passed today is worse than useless.”Anna Krajinska, Transport & Environment
T&E also lists the weakened measures in detail. Trucks would be allowed nearly twice higher NOx limits; targets for vans are 30% weaker. The testing mentioned above for cars, including tests on acceleration, temperature and altitude, are back to Euro 6 requirements; the same goes for truck testing requirements, which are “almost entirely reverting to Euro 6 standards,” writes T&E.
Moreover, there will be a “severely delayed” implementation of Euro 7, meaning cars won’t have to comply with limits until three years after all associated regulation is adopted. For trucks, the rules won’t apply until 2030 at the earliest.
Parliament adopted its negotiation positions with 329 votes in favour, 230 against and 41 abstentions. As it stands, talks will now start with national governments of the EU member states to finalise Euro 7. The new regulation will update the current limits for exhaust emissions (such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ammonia) and introduce new measures to reduce emissions from tyres and brakes and increase the lifespan of electric car batteries. E-fuels, which were called for by the German liberals (FDP), remain excluded.
Regardless or perhaps as a pay-off, there won’t be any more sales of cars with internal combustion engines in the EU from 2035. The Member States had their final vote in March of this year. The sales ban is a crucial part of Europe’s Fit for 55 climate package, on which all member states agreed, except for Italy, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.