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Reduction of pollutant emissions from light vehicles

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Reduction of pollutant emissions from light vehicles

The European Union (EU) aims to introduce stricter limits on pollutant emissions from light road vehicles, particularly for emissions of nitrogen particulates and oxides. The Regulation includes measures concerning access to information on vehicles and their components and the possibility of introducing tax incentives.


Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information [See amending act(s)].


In order to limit pollution caused by road vehicles, this Regulation introduces common requirements for emissions from motor vehicles and their specific replacement parts (Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards). It also lays down measures improving access to information on vehicle repairs and promoting the rapid production of vehicles in compliance with the provisions of the Regulation.

Vehicles involved

The Regulation covers vehicles of categories M1, M2, N1 and N2, with a reference mass not exceeding 2 610 kg. This includes, among others, passenger vehicles, vans, and commercial vehicles intended for the transport of passengers or goods or certain other specific uses (for example ambulances), provided they have positive-ignition engines (petrol, natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed ignition (diesel engines).

Apart from the vehicles mentioned above (which are covered de facto by the Regulation), vehicle manufacturers may request that vehicles intended for the transport of passengers or goods with a reference mass of between 2 610 kg and 2 840 kg should also be included.

In order to limit as much as possible the negative impact of road vehicles on the environment and health, the Regulation covers a wide range of pollutant emissions: carbon monoxide (CO), non-methane hydrocarbons and total hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates (PM). It covers tailpipe emissions, evaporative emissions and crankcase emissions.

Emission limits

There are emission limits for each category of pollutant emissions and for the different types of vehicle listed above. These are detailed in Annex I to the Regulation.

Euro 5 standard

Emissions from diesel vehicles:

  • carbon monoxide: 500 mg/km;
  • particulates: 5 mg/km (80 % reduction of emissions in comparison to the Euro 4 standard);
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx): 180 mg/km (20 % reduction of emissions in comparison to the Euro 4 standard);
  • combined emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides: 230 mg/km.

Emissions from petrol vehicles or those running on natural gas or LPG:

  • carbon monoxide: 1 000 mg/km;
  • non-methane hydrocarbons: 68 mg/km;
  • total hydrocarbons: 100 mg/km;
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx): 60 mg/km (25 % reduction of emissions in comparison to the Euro 4 standard);
  • particulates (solely for lean burn direct-injection petrol vehicles): 5 mg/km (introduction of a limit that did not exist in the Euro 4 standard).

In the case of vans and other light commercial vehicles intended for goods transport, the Regulation includes three categories of emission limits, depending on the reference mass of the vehicle: under 1 305 kg, between 1 305 kg and 1 760 kg, and over 1 760 kg. The limits that apply to the last of the three categories also apply to goods transport vehicles (category N2).

Euro 6 Standard

All vehicles equipped with a diesel engine will be required to substantially reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides as soon as the Euro 6 standard enters into force. For example, emissions from cars and other vehicles intended to be used for transport will be capped at 80 mg/km (an additional reduction of more than 50 % compared to the Euro 5 standard). Combined emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from diesel vehicles will also be reduced. These will be capped at, for example, 170 mg/km for cars and other vehicles intended to be used for transport.

Implementation of the standards

As soon as the Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards enter into force, Member States must refuse the approval, registration, sale and introduction of vehicles that do not comply with these emission limits. An additional delay of one year is allowed for goods transport vehicles (category N1, classes II and III, and category N2) and vehicles designed to fulfil specific social needs. Time frame:

  • the Euro 5 standard came into force on 1 September 2009 for the approval of vehicles, and on 1 January 2011 for the registration and sale of new types of cars;
  • the Euro 6 standard will come into force on 1 September 2014 for the approval of vehicles, and from 1 January 2015 for the registration and sale of new types of cars. However, positive-ignition engines with direct injection benefit from less restrictive thresholds, in terms of the number of particles, for an additional period of 3 years.

Tax incentives granted by Member States and intended to encourage earlier use of the new limits will be authorised if:

  • they apply for all new vehicles available for sale on the market of a Member State, which meet the requirements of this Regulation before their entry into force;
  • they end on the date the new limits come into force;
  • their amount does not exceed the additional cost of the technical measures introduced to guarantee compliance with the values laid down and their installation in vehicles.

Other obligations on manufacturers

In addition to complying with the emission limits mentioned above, vehicle manufacturers must also ensure that devices fitted to control pollution are able to last for a distance of 160 000 km. In addition, conformity must be checked for a period of 5 years or over a distance of 100 000 km.

The Commission established committees to devise, before 2 July 2008, procedures, tests and specific requirements for the following:

  • tailpipe emissions, including test cycles, low ambient temperature emissions, emissions at idling speed, exhaust gas opacity, and the proper functioning and regeneration of after- treatment systems;
  • evaporative emissions and crankcase emissions;
  • on-board diagnostic systems and the performance of anti-pollution devices while the vehicle is running;
  • durability of anti-pollution devices, replacement parts for emissions control systems, in-service conformity, conformity of production and technical control;
  • carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption;
  • hybrid vehicles;
  • extension of approvals and requirements for small manufacturers;
  • requirements for testing equipment;
  • reference fuels, such as petrol, diesel fuel, gas and biofuels;
  • measuring engine power.

Easy and clear access to information on vehicle repair and maintenance is key to guaranteeing free competition on the internal market for information and repair services. To this end, manufacturers must ensure that independent operators have easy access via the internet to information on the repair and upkeep of vehicles, without discrimination in favour of dealerships and official repair workshops. This obligation covers on-board diagnostic systems and their components, diagnostic tools, testing equipment and standard working units or time periods required for repair and maintenance activities. Charges for accessing such information are permitted if they are reasonable and proportionate. However, independent repairers have access to the registers of information free of charge and under the same conditions as authorised dealers and repairers.

Furthermore, manufacturers must make information available on vehicle repair and maintenance, as well as on the transactional services.


Although the standards for pollutant emissions have been updated since 1 January 2005 (Euro 4 standard), the EU believes that it is necessary to improve them further, while also considering the implications for the markets and the competitiveness of manufacturers, and the direct and indirect costs for businesses.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 715/2007



OJ L 171 of 29.6.2007

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 692/2008



OJ L 199 of 28.7.2008

Regulation (EC) No 595/2009



OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

Regulation (EU) No 566/2011



OJ L 158 of 16.6.2011

Regulation (EU) No 459/2012



OJ L 142 of 1.6.2012


Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles [OJ L 140 of 5.6.2009].

Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe [Official Journal L 152 of 11.6.2008].

Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles (Framework Directive) (Text with EEA relevance) [Official Journal L 263 of 9.10.2007].

Last updated: 17.01.2014