In Focus
June 2024

European Parliament and Council adopt new rules to reduce road transport emissions (Euro-7)


As part of the European Commission’s 2020 Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the 2021 Zero-Pollution Action Plan, new road transport emission targets (Euro-7) were presented by the Commission on 10 November 2022. The Council adopted its position on 25 September 2023. The Council and the Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on 18 December 2023.

On 19 April 2023 the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2023/851 to strengthen the CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles, which sets a 100% reduction target for both cars and vans from 2035 onwards. While the industry prepares for this change, which means that new combustion cars and vans will be banned on the domestic market from 2035, such vehicles will remain available. Other internal combustion vehicles (lorries, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles) will continue to be produced after that date. The Euro-7 rules will be necessary to cover the emissions of cars and vans until that date, while other rules contained in the regulation (concerning brakes, tyres and battery life, for instance) will continue to apply to new cleaner cars and vans after 2035.

Current status and implementation

In March this year the European Parliament and Council agreed on new rules and regulations to reduce road transport emissions for passenger cars, vans, buses and lorries. The new Euro-7 emission standards aim to support the transition towards clean mobility and keep the prices of private and commercial vehicles affordable for citizens and businesses. Vehicles will need to comply with the new standards for longer, ensuring they remain cleaner throughout their lifetime.

The European Commission launched an impact assessment (IA) of updating Euro emission standards to Euro-7 in November 2022, which was referred to the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). The standards are meant to help to implement the Commission’s Zero-Pollution Action Plan and Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy under the European Green Deal and take into account WHO air quality guidelines and the UN World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations.

Euro emission standards are used to test and approve new cars, vans, buses and lorries before they can serve on the EU market. They aim to limit air pollutants emitted by vehicles’ tailpipe, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM-1). Current Euro-6 standards were adopted in 2007 for light-duty vehicles and in 2009 for heavy-duty vehicles. They were fully rolled out in 2013/2014. The Euro-7 standards also intend to update, complete and simplify the current emission standards and to improve emission control.

“Today’s Euro-7 vote has put the focus where it matters most – on future-oriented challenges such as vehicle brake emissions for cars and vans and electric vehicle battery requirements,” Sigrid de Vries, Director General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) was heard saying. “But make no mistake: Euro-7 still tightens exhaust emissions and test procedures. In particular, truck and bus manufacturers will face significantly more stringent rules, as they already face an uphill climb to meet rapidly approaching 2030 decarbonisation targets in the absence of vital enabling conditions,” she added.

Rapporteur Alexandr Vondra, member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, Czech Republic, said: “Through this deal, we have successfully struck a balance between environmental goals and the vital interests of manufacturers. The aim of the negotiations was to ensure the affordability of new smaller cars with internal combustion engines for domestic customers and at the same time enable the automotive industry to prepare for the expected overall transformation of the sector. The European Union will now also be addressing emissions from brakes and tyres and ensure higher battery durability.”

In more detail, the updated requirements and limits for exhaust emissions can be categorized as follows:

Passenger cars and vans    

It was agreed to maintain the current Euro-6 test conditions and exhaust emissions limits. The number of exhaust particles will be measured at the level of PN10 (number of particles above 10nm), instead of PN23, in order to include smaller particles in the test. This was requested by the European Parliament.

Buses and trucks

The agreement introduces stricter limits for exhaust emissions measured in laboratories (e.g. NOx limit of 200mg/kWh) and in real driving conditions (NOx limit of 260 mg/kWh), while maintaining the current Euro VI testing conditions.

As a novelty, the Euro-7 proposal tackles non-exhaust emissions (micro plastics from tyres and particles from brakes) and includes requirements concerning battery durability.

Break particle emissions from tyres and brakes

The requirements include brake particles (PM10) emissions limits for cars and vans at 3mg/km for pure electric vehicles and at 7mg/km for most internal combustion engine (ICE), hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles. The limit was set at 11mg/km for large ICE vans.

Battery durability

New, minimum performance requirements for battery durability were introduced. For electric cars the requirement has been lifted to 80% from start of life to five years or 100,000 km, and for hybrid cars the minimum durability is set at 72% up to eight years or 160 000km. For vans, the requirements are 75% from start of life to five years or 100 000 km and 67% up to eight years or 160 000 km, respectively.

Beyond this, the Euro-7 standard proposes an Environmental Vehicle Passport, to be made available for each vehicle and containing information on its environmental performance at the moment of registration, including pollutant emission limits, CO2 emissions, fuel and electric energy consumption, electric range and battery durability). Vehicle users will also have access to up-to-date information about fuel consumption, battery health, pollutant emissions and other relevant information generated by on-board systems and monitors. Moreover, car manufacturers will have to design their vehicles so as to prevent tampering with emissions control systems through the digitalisation of automobile monitoring.

In a separate press release ACEA commented that it is important to recall the substantial progress to date, with vehicle emissions slashed by 90% between the first Euro standard and the first version of Euro 6. But to truly realise what Euro 7 sets out to achieve, policy makers must do more to replace older, more polluting vehicles on roads with newer models equipped with the most advanced emission technology. This is not only about incentives to boost market uptake of newer vehicles, but also establishing a holistic regulatory framework that keeps mobility affordable for all Europeans.

Decision makers will still need to decide on key elements through secondary legislation, and several important inconsistencies in the text still need to be corrected in an appropriate way. ACEA plans to continue working to ensure a realistic and proportionate Euro 7 that balances environmental concerns and competitiveness.

Next steps

On 12 April 2024 the European Parliament and Council adopted the Euro-7 regulation, which lays down rules on emission limits for road vehicles and battery durability, which is the last step in the EU-decision-making procedure.

After being signed by the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council, the regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication.

The dates of application of the regulation will depend on the kind of vehicle concerned:

• 30 months for new types of cars and vans, and 42 months for new cars and vans

• 48 months for new types of buses, trucks and trailers, and 60 months for new buses, lorries and trailers

• 30 months for new systems, components or separate technical units to be fitted in cars and vans, and 48 months for those to be fitted in buses, lorries and trailers

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