A conciliation agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council on 10 December opens the way for the introduction of cleaner fuels for vehicles from 2005.
Key features of the conciliation deal:
- Zero-sulphur (containing no more than 10 ppm) petrol and diesel fuels will be available in the EU at the latest from 1 January 2005; full introduction of these fuels from 1 January 2009;
- from 1 January 2009, these fuels will also be used for non-road mobile vehicles.
Environment Commissioner Wallström welcomed the agreement and said that it "paves the way for the introduction of clean fuels that will help to reduce air pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions."
The European Commission proposed on 11 May 2001 a draft directive on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels amending the existing directive 98/70/EC. The Commission's proposal aimed at introducing sulphur-free petrol and diesel in every Member State from 1 January 2005 and at making the use of zero-sulphur petrol mandatory from 2011.
The directive will cut air pollution and will also speed up the introduction of advanced engine technologies with improved fuel-efficiency.
In December 2001, the Council agreed with the proposed date of introduction of 2005 but decided to speed up the mandatory use of sulphur-free fuels from 2011 to 2009. On the other hand, the environment ministers decided against the introduction of these rules for non-road vehicles such as farm tractors.
During the second reading of the proposed draft directive on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels on 26 September, the Parliament had insisted that the new standards should apply not only to ordinary road vehicles but also to non-road mobile vehicles such as agricultural and forestry tractors.
Parliament and Council will formally have to approve the conciliation agreement.