The review of the EU's Fuel Quality Directive

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Petrol and diesel specifications are being reviewed in order to lower their environmental and health impact as well as to take into account new EU-wide targets on biofuels and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

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Overview

The 1998 Fuel Quality Directive sets EU-wide specifications for petrol, diesel and gas-oil used in cars, trucks and other vehicles - including inland waterway barges, tractor locomotives and machinery - in order to protect human health and the environment. 

In January 2007, the Commission proposed revising the standards so as to: 

  • Reflect developments in fuel and engine technology;
  • help combat climate change by promoting the development of lower carbon fuels, including biofuels; and; 
  • meet air-quality objectives set out in a 2005 Clean Air Strategy, inter alia, by reducing emissions of sulphur and PAHs (Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons) from diesel.    

If approved, the amendments would permit higher volumes of biofuels such as ethanol to be used in petrol. 

The Commission is also proposing mandatory monitoring and reporting of "lifecycle greenhouse emissions" from fuels as of 2009, and an obligation for fuel suppliers to ensure that greenhouse gases produced by their fuels throughout their life-cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) are cut by 1% per year between 2011 and 2020 (Article 7a). 

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