Parliamentary question - E-6016/2007Parliamentary question

Environmental zones in European city centres

by Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE‑DE)
to the Commission

From 1 January 2008 a number of major cities in Germany will be introducing environmental zones in their city centres. Certain heavy goods vehicles and cars will be banned from entering the city centre, on the grounds of the pollution they produce. In the Netherlands, too, a large number of cities will be creating environmental zones, and this scheme is also under discussion in other Member States.

Although Member States and cities are entitled to set up such zones, and although in certain cases this scheme may help improve air quality in inner cities, it will clearly have a major impact in practice on people coming from abroad. For example, an environmental zone sticker from one Member State will not be valid in another. Drivers will therefore have to have their cars tested in the country they are visiting to obtain a sticker. The organisation of the environmental protection areas will also vary from one Member State to another. Similarly the conditions for obtaining an environmental sticker will vary and it will be almost impossible to obtain in advance in one Member State a sticker for a city in another Member State, with all the practical inconvenience this implies.

Europe has a transparent and effective system, in the shape of the Euronorms, which could form an excellent basis for a clearer European classification and a European environmental zone sticker. The Commission is quite right to state in its Green Paper on Urban Mobility that we need to avoid creating a fragmented patchwork of differing low emission areas.

1. Is the Commission aware of the plans to introduce environmental zones in the various Member States?

2. Does the Commission agree that the appearance of differing environmental zone stickers in different forms and based on differing organisational systems, together with their limited validity and obtainability, is an obstacle to the freedom of movement in the EU and hampers easy access to cities, even with environmentally friendly cars?

3. How does the Commission propose to prevent the creation of the patchwork it highlighted in its Green Paper? Is it prepared to say what the prospects are of introducing a European environmental zone sticker?

4. Is the Commission prepared to take the initiative for the creation of a European environmental zone sticker which can be used in all Member States, based on the Euronorms?

OJ C 191, 29/07/2008