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Document 52000AC0580

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the 'Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 70/220/EEC concerning measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles'

OJ C 204, 18.7.2000, p. 1–2 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

52000AC0580

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the 'Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 70/220/EEC concerning measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles'

Official Journal C 204 , 18/07/2000 P. 0001 - 0002


Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 70/220/EEC concerning measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles"

(2000/C 204/01)

On 13 March 2000 the Council decided to consult the Economic and Social Committee, under Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the above-mentioned proposal.

The Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 3 May 2000. The rapporteur was Mr Gafo Fernández.

At its 373rd plenary session of 24 and 25 May 2000 (meeting of 24 May), the Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion unanimously.

1. Introduction

1.1. One of the requirements introduced over recent years to reduce and control vehicle emissions has been on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems, which check on a non-stop basis that emissions from vehicles in operation comply with the standards established at the time of manufacture.

1.2. OBD becomes compulsory from 2000 (or 2001, depending on type) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles equipped with positive-ignition engines.

1.3. The "positive-ignition" category also includes vehicles, frequently for public service purposes, which use alternative fuels such as Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) or natural gas (NG), either exclusively or in part. Emissions from these fuels generally have less impact on the environment, and may be considered more "eco-friendly".

1.4. At its present stage of development, the use of OBD in LPG or NG vehicles presents practical problems. Although some OBD systems have been approved in the United States, they have not received approval in Europe. Moreover, OBD cannot currently adjust properly to switching from conventional fuel such as petrol to alternatives such as LPG or NG.

1.5. Community harmonisation directives usually set different application deadlines for vehicle types of totally new design (legally defined as "new types") and existing models (legally defined as "all types"). A shorter deadline is generally set for the former ("new types").

1.6. Lastly, the Commission document refers to US requirements in California, which will not be applied "until the 2004 model year". The European Commission, however, stipulates 1 January 2003 for new vehicle types: it will be difficult for the manufacturers of these devices, and car manufacturers, to get the system ready in such a short time.

2. General comments

2.1. The Committee generally approves the amendment proposed by the Commission.

2.2. The Committee would however urge the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to apply the urgency procedure to this directive, in order to provide the industry with a clear and precise framework so that it can prepare OBD systems for positive-ignition vehicles which use LPG or NG exclusively or in part.

2.3. This reflects the practical impossibility for the automobile industry of preparing special OBD systems for use with LPG or NG within the deadlines laid down in the Commission document. The reasons for this are as follows:

2.3.1. The inclusion of vehicles using LPG or NG was not originally foreseen in Directive 70/220/EEC or its amendment 98/69/EC, which introduced for the first time compulsory use of OBD systems. As a result, the industry had not commenced the relevant research for the design and installation of such systems.

2.3.2. The decision adopted by Directive 99/102/EC, adapting the initial specifications for OBD systems, points to the advisability of gaining greater experience with the preparation of such systems for entirely petrol-fuelled engines, before extending them to engines making exclusive or partial use of hydrocarbons in gaseous form, quite different to liquid fuels. The same applies to category N1 classes I and III and category M1 weighing more than 2500 kg.

2.3.3. The industry has recently begun to place low-emission vehicles using LPG and NG on the market: such vehicles cannot adopt OBD systems within such a short time-frame.

2.3.4. The example for this system is to be introduced in California, where the application of OBD systems is planned for 2004.

3. Specific comments

3.1. Amend point 8.1.2 of the Annex as follows:

For category M1 vehicles with mass of less than 2500 kg and category N1 class I vehicles, put back application of the directive from 2003 to 1 January 2004 (new types), and from 2006 to 1 January 2007 (all types).

For category M1 vehicles with mass exceeding 2500 kg and for category N1 classes I and III, put back application of the directive from 2006 to 1 January 2007 (new types), and from 2007 to 1 January 2008 (all types).

Brussels, 24 May 2000.

The President

of the Economic and Social Committee

Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli

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