The proposed directive, which aims to facilitate market-wide introduction of clean and efficient vehicles, received overwhelming support in the vote on 22 October. The directive will require all public and private authorities which contract for public transport to consider the environmental impact of the vehicles they purchase in addition to their price. The operational lifetime costs will be monetised and calculated according to a uniform methodology, which should provide for transparent comparison.
MEPs decided to make the criteria mandatory to all member states but offered them some flexibility as to the details of implementation.
Nevertheless, the vote strengthens the Commission's original proposals, advancing implementation by two years to 2010. MEPs also obtained an increase in the costs related to CO2 emissions, which are to be factored in at a price of at least €30 per tonne, while the EU executive proposed €20 per tonne (EurActiv 20/12/07).
The Commission expects that the high visibility of public procurement will ensure that the directive will have an influence "well beyond its immediate scope". It hopes that business and the private sector will follow by investing in the procurement and development of environmentally-friendly vehicles. The resulting reduction in prices should then bring energy-efficiency gains and a reduction in CO2 and pollutant emissions.
Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, in charge of transport, welcomed the Parliament's decision, saying the public sector in Europe would "set an example by promoting new and better vehicle technologies for a future sustainable transport system," which, in turn, would send "a clear signal to the market and to the citizens on the competitive value of technologies which save energy and protect the environment".
However, the industry has expressed concerns about green procurement measures driving up the purchase, maintenance and operating costs of the whole system. Indeed, the Commission has estimated that including lifetime costs for fuel and pollutant emissions would increase the overall price of a normal bus from around €150,000 to €594,030. It insists that the gap will be made up by improved fuel efficiency.
Nevertheless, the International Association for Public Transport (UITP) has warned that "higher ecological standards for public transport vehicles should be financed from different sources than the existing public transport budget," which is falling across Europe.