The European Parliament approved new rules on Tuesday (10 March) allowing manufacturers to build larger and more aerodynamic trucks that supporters say will improve road safety and reduce polluting emissions.
The new lorry designs, mandatory as of 2022, include rounded front cabs and aerodynamic flaps at the back of the vehicles. Such changes will help lorry drivers reduce accidents by making it easier to spot and avoid bicycles and motorcycles on the roads.
Parliament’s vote comes after lengthy negotiations with the Council of Ministers. The legislators disagreed on the start date for mandatory designs.
While MEPs backed the European Commission’s proposal to oblige automobile manufacturers to produce newly designed trucks starting in 2017, the Council rejected the proposal and called for a delay until 2025.
It emerged that Member States, particularly France and Sweden, opposed an early start, fearing increased competition from foreign makers. Both countries are home to some of the largest truck manufacturers in the world.
A deal was brokered by the Italian EU Presidency last December, setting 2022 as the start date, despite pressure from MEPs and environmental campaigners for the law to come into force earlier.
Introducing cross-border trials of extra-large lorries was another controversy that delayed an agreement in the EU institutions. Trucks larger than 18.75 metres in length and 40 tonnes in weight can be used in trials only within national borders.
A provision in the new rules was supposed to allow for these trucks to go cross-border, but it was blocked by the Parliament and Council.
Both co-legislators considered trials of extra-large trucks unsafe. Instead, they asked the Commission to assess its impact before approving such a law.
The new law still has to be formally approved by the Council before it officially enters into force. A meeting of the EU transport ministers will take place in June.
Member States have time until 2019 to integrate the EU rules into national legislation.