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Transport & Environment

Future Developments

Road Vehicles
Fuel Quality Monitoring
Pollutant Emission from ships
Non-road Mobile Machinery
Environmental Integration for the Transport Sector


Road Vehicles

Automotive Fuel Quality

On 31 January 2007 the European Commission proposed new standards for transport fuels that will reduce their contribution to climate change and air pollution, including through greater use of biofuels. The proposed changes to Directive 98/70 underscore the Commission's commitment to ensure that the EU combats climate change and air pollution effectively.

The new standards will not only make petrol, diesel and gasoil 'cleaner' but will also allow the introduction of vehicles and machinery that pollute less. A key measure is that, to encourage the development of lower-carbon fuels and biofuels, suppliers will have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, transport and use of their fuels by 10% between 2011 and 2020. This will cut emissions by a cumulative total of 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020.

A new petrol blend will be established allowing higher content of the biofuel ethanol, and sulphur levels in diesel and gasoil will be cut to reduce emissions of dangerous dust particles.

A broad consultation on the appropriate level for the sulphur content of petrol and diesel has taken place during the years 1999 and 2000 and the contributions have been synthesised and reviewed by a panel of independent experts. The Commission will bring forward a proposal to amend current legislation with respect to the remaining fuel parameters and, if appropriate, the sulphur content of petrol and diesel.

  1. New Commission proposal to fill in the missing fuel specifications for year 2005.

  2. "Call for Evidence" on reducing the level of sulphur in petrol and diesel below 50 ppm. The Commission initiated a public consultation on this issue and all papers can be found on the internet.

Pollutant Emissions from Ships

In 2002 the European Commission adopted a European Union strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships. The strategy comprises a Commission Communication to the Parliament and Council and an accompanying proposal for a Directive on the sulphur content of marine fuel.

The Communication has now been considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers - for details please see the ship emissions main page. The Directive is still subject to negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, under the co-decision procedure.

Click here for a diagram of how the co-decision procedure works.

While negotiations continue the Commission is pressing ahead with other aims:

  • We are launching a new service contract on ship emissions assignment, abatement and market-based instruments. Click to see the Terms of Reference de en fr (pdf~50K) for this work. The contract will be awarded following an open call for tender. The results will feed in to the Clean Air for Europe programme, due in 2005.
  • We continue to work with Member States to prepare for discussions on ship emissions at the International Maritime Organization. The Commission services are participating in the inter-sessional correspondence group on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. During 2004 we hope that progress will be made towards ratification of MARPOL Annex VI, and subsequent tightening of its emissions standards, particularly for NOx.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at

Non-road Mobile Machinery

Emissions from conventional cars and trucks continue to be reduced and therefore in parallel, further progress can be made in the non-road sector as technically and economically feasible solutions become available.

In December 2002 the Commission made a proposal for a Directive (COM (2002) 765) es da de el fr it nl pt fi sv (pdf~900K) to further reduce emissions from diesel engines. The objective of the proposal is to tighten emissions standards for engines in general non road applications in light of technological developments and to extend the scope of current Directive 97/68/EC to include engines in inland waterway vessels. It also takes into account the parallel developments for similar legislation in the United States in order to harmonise the environmental standards and to facilitate trade.

This directive is currently under discussion in the Council and the European Parliament.

The proposed amendments to the Commission's Proposal which will be subject to debate in the October II 2003 Plenary can be found at

Environmental Integration for the Transport Sector