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Transport & Environment

Road Vehicles

The pollutant emissions from road vehicles are regulated separately for light-duty vehicles (cars and light vans) and for heavy-duty vehicles (trucks and buses). For light-duty vehicles, the emission standard currently in force is Euro 4, as defined by Directive 98/70/EC which is one of the Directives amending Directive 70/220/EEC. Following the CAFE programme and the resulting Thematic Strategy on air pollution, new Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards have already been agreed by Council and Parliament (see relevant DG ENTR web page).

The preparation of Euro 5/6 was based on input by industry stakeholders that was reviewed by a panel of independent experts (see Euro 5 panel report).

The Euro 5/6 standards are formulated using a split-level approach, which means that politically relevant aspects are contained in a main instrument that is agreed via co-decision by Council and European Parliament, while technical aspects are regulated by means of implementing legislation to be prepared by the Commission supported by a Committee. The Regulation has been politically agreed by the institutions in December 2006 and formally adopted by the Council on 30 May 2007. However it has not yet been published so a formal reference number is not yet available. The implementing legislation is currently under preparation.

Euro 5 will enter into force in September 2009. The main effect of Euro 5 is to reduce the emission of particulate matter from diesel cars from 25mg/km to 5mg/km. Euro 6 is scheduled to enter into force in January 2014 and will mainly reduce the emissions of NOx from diesel cars further, from 180mg/km to 80mg/km.

The legislation currently in force for heavy-duty vehicles is Directive 2005/55/EC (agreed in co-decision) and Directive 2005/78/EC (implementing provisions). This legislation defines the emission standard currently in force, Euro IV, as well as the next stage (Euro V) which will enter into force in October 2008. In addition, it defines a non-binding standard called Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV).

Following the CAFE programme and the resulting Thematic Strategy on air pollution, the Commission has made a proposal for a new Euro VI stage in December 2007. As for the case of light-duty vehicles, the proposal is based on industry input reviewed by a panel of independent experts (see Euro VI panel report).

The Commission service in charge of road vehicle emission standards is DG Enterprise (see relevant web page).

For vehicles in use there is legislation on periodic inspections at which the state of maintenance of the vehicle is checked (Directive 96/96/EC).

History: Motor vehicle emissions have originally been regulated by Directive 70/220/EEC (light-duty vehicles) and 88/77/EC (heavy-duty vehicles) and amendments to those directives. A whole series of amendments have been issued to stepwise tighten the limit values. The Auto-Oil Programme focused on the emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particles. It resulted in the Euro 3 and Euro 4 stages for light-duty vehicles as laid down in Directive 98/70/EC and in the Euro III and IV standards for heavy duty vehicles (Directive 1999/96/EC, now repealed), as well as the fuel quality Directive 98/70/EC.