France, Germany want tighter emission standards for diesel engines

At the 4 March Environment Council, the French and German delegations called for the promotion of more stringent limit values for emissions from passengers cars and lorries with diesel engines.

The German-French joint intervention was made in line with the results of the 12th Franco-German Environment Summit of 27 February 2003. At that meeting, German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin and his French collegue Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin decided to push for a further reduction of particle and NOx emissions from diesel engines.

The ministers’ aim is to tighten limit values for diesel engines by way of introducing a new set of “Euro 5” standards by 2010. Currently applicable standard is “Euro 3”, and from October 2005, more restrictive “Euro 4” limits will come into force.

Technical solutions to meet the new limits are already available, German minister Jürgen Trittin pointed out. Currently, six French, Italian and Japanese car manufacturers offer diesel cars fitted with efficient particle filters. German manufacturers, however, have not caught up yet.

In Europe, 42 per cent of all new car registrations are diesel engine vehicles, and their number is rising. Emissions from diesel engines contain carcinogenic sooty particles and NOx, co-responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer.

EU emission standards, laid down in Directives 1998/69/EC and 1999/96/EC, differ for diesel and petrol vehicles. Diesels have lower CO standards but are allowed higher NOx emissions.

At the next Environment Council, the Commission will submit a report on this matter on the basis of which further measures could be considered.

A possible scenario is the adoption of a regulation to ensure that future diesel-engine vehicles be equipped with the necessary technology to reduce their emission levels.

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