The Parliament’s environment committee agreed to new rules on car pollution that will effectively delay until 2011 carmakers’ obligation to further cut emissions of harmful air pollutants from new vehicles.

The European Parliament's environment committee voted on 13 September to delay the introduction of new EU laws known as Euro 5 aimed at reining in pollution from new cars.

The original draft - tabled by the Commission in December 2005 after nearly two years of stakeholder consultation - suggested enforcing the new rules for private cars as early as mid-2008 (EurActiv 9 Jan. 2006).

But opposition from European car manufacturers, voiced in a high-level industry advisory group called CARS 21, seems to have frustrated this schedule.

Under a compromise deal struck by the committee, Euro 5 standards would start to apply a year later, as of 1 September 2009. And full compliance will only become compulsory as of January 2011.

"The wording does not specifically mention a transition period, but this is what it appears to be," a Parliament source told EurActiv.

Heavier vehicles of more than 2,500 kg will have between 1 September 2010 and 1 January 2012 to comply. This category includes mini-buses of seven or more people and light commercial vehicles.

A set of compromise amendments to the Euro 5 proposal was agreed prior to the vote by the Parliament's three main political parties, the centre-right (EPP-ED), the socialists (PES) and the liberals (ALDE) and voted in bloc.

The amendments also comprise an upward revision of emissions limits for hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced from vehicle exhausts which can contribute to smog formation and are harmful to human health.