Development of Euro 7 emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses

In “A European Green Deal”

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Under the European Green Deal, the Commission committed to present, in 2021, a proposal for more stringent air pollutant emissions standards for combustion-engine vehicles. The latest standards are Euro 6 for light-duty vehicles (cars and vans), and Euro VI for heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses and coaches). They are covered by Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and Regulation (EC) No 595/2009, respectively.

The objective of the legislative initiative on post Euro 6/VI standards is to improve air quality, with a particular emphasis on urban areas, by reducing air pollutant emissions from road transport and setting harmonised rules for vehicles. It will also aim to reduce the complexity and compliance costs of the existing Euro 6/VI vehicle emission standards; provide appropriate and up-to-date limits for all air pollutant emissions; and ensure that new vehicles keep their air pollutant emissions under control throughout their entire lifetime and in all conditions of use.

In her speech on the State of the Union from 16 September 2020, and the Letter of Intent sent to the President of the European Parliament and the German Presidency of the Council, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the legislative proposal on post-Euro 6/VI emission standards for cars, vans, lorries and buses would be one of the key initiatives to be presented in 2021.

According to the Commission work programme for 2021, the initiative had to be put forward in the fourth quarter of the year. It was finally tabled on 10 November 2022.

The proposed Euro 7 regulation would cover both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles in one single act. The same emission limits would apply to all vehicles within the same category, regardless of the technology or the fuel used ('technology- and fuel-neutral' approach). Changes brought by the proposal regarding pollutants include regulating particle emissions from brakes and tyres; making cars and vans subject to ammonia limits, as already required for lorries and buses; regulating formaldehyde, and nitrous oxide for lorries and buses. For cars and vans, the exhaust emission limits would be set at the lowest level currently imposed under Euro 6 for cars (thus imposing lower limits for vans than under Euro 6). The proposal also includes requirements concerning battery durability.

The Council adopted its general approach on the file on 25 September 2023. In its position, the Council maintained test conditions and emissions limits established in Euro 6 for private passenger cars and vans. For buses and coaches, and heavy commercial vehicles, the emission limits would be set lower, and the test conditions would be slightly adjusted, compared to Euro 6/VI. The Council sought to strengthen the alignment of brake particle emission limits and tyre abrasion rate limits with international standards adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It also aimed to take account of the proposed 2030 zero-CO2 emissions target for urban buses (as part of the review of CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles). The Council position set deadlines for the adoption of implementing acts by the Commission. It also modified the regulation's application dates. 

In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), responsible for the file, appointed Alexandr Vondra (ECR, Czechia) as rapporteur on 14 December 2022. The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) was associated Committee under rule 57.

The ENVI Committee adopted its legislative report on 12 October 2023  with 52 votes in favour, 32 against and one abstention. The report kept the levels proposed by the Commission for pollutant emissions for passenger cars, while suggesting an additional breakdown of emissions into three categories for light commercial vehicles based on their weight. The text sought to enhance limits for exhaust emissions by buses and heavy-duty vehicles, including levels set for real driving emissions, and aimed to align the EU’s calculation methodologies and limits for brake particle emission and tyre abrasion rate with international standards currently being developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The report also set higher minimum performance requirements for battery durability for cars and vans than those proposed by the Commission. It further set a deadline for the Commission to adopt secondary legislation (12 months from the regulation's entry into force). Light-duty vehicles would have to comply with the regulation within 24 months of the entry into force of all relevant secondary legislation, whereas heavy-duty vehicles would have 48 months.

On 9 November 2023, the Parliament adopted its position in plenary with 329 votes in favour, 230 votes against and 41 abstentions. The matter was referred back to ENVI for interinstitutional negotiations.

Trilogue negotiations led to a provisional agreement on 18 December 2023. For cars and vans, the co-legislators agreed to maintain the current Euro 6 test conditions and exhaust emissions limits. For buses and trucks, they included stricter limits for exhaust emissions measured in laboratories and real driving conditions, while keeping the current Euro VI testing conditions. They agreed on the setting of brake particles emissions limits for cars and vans, the introduction of minimum performance requirements for battery durability in electric and hybrid cars and vans, and the provision of an environmental vehicle passport, to be made available for each vehicle. Vehicle users should also have access to up-to-date information about fuel consumption, state of health of batteries, pollutant emissions and other relevant information generated by on-board systems and monitors.

The final act, formally adopted by the co-legislators and signed on 24 April, was published on 8 May 2024 in the EU Official Journal. Different dates of application are set, notably depending on vehicle categories. 

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Author: Vivienne Halleux, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/06/2024.