15.2.2011   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 48/134


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 97/68/EC as regards the provisions for engines placed on the market under the flexibility scheme’

COM(2010) 362 final — 2010/0195 (COD)

2011/C 48/23

Rapporteur working alone: Mr PEZZINI

On 7 September 2010, the Council and the European Parliament decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), on the

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 97/68/EC as regards the provisions for engines placed on the market under the flexibility scheme

COM(2010) 362 final – 2010/0195 (COD).

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 1 September 2010.

At its 465th plenary session, held on 15 and 16 September 2010 (meeting of 16 September), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion unanimously.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1   The Committee is convinced that placing progressively greener non-road mobile machinery – NRMM – on the EU market that emits less and less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates  (1), is a vital objective in line with the EU's 2020 targets for cutting emissions that are harmful to health and cause climate change.

1.2   The Committee is also convinced that – particularly during a global financial, economic and employment crisis – the EU's NRMM-engine manufacturing industry needs to be ensured:

adequate competitiveness;

sufficient opportunity and time to carry out technological research and development; and

sufficient flexibility as regards innovative manufacturing applications and the modifications needed to install the engines (2), enabling the emission limits to be reached and respected, without putting jobs at risk.

1.3   The Committee supports the Commission's proposal to increase the flexibility percentage to 50 % for the sectors already covered by the flexibility arrangements laid down in the NRMM Directive (3), and to adapt the total number of engines that can be placed on the market under those arrangements, as well as to extend the flexibility scheme to railcars and locomotives, under the lower percentage of 20 %.

1.4   As the Committee has previously pointed out (4), type-approval of engines using the reference fuel guarantees that they operate in line with the limit values set down for stage III B, but emissions will only meet the new limit values if suitable fuels are actually available on the market.

1.4.1   Given the technology needed to meet the stage III B (5) particulate and NOx emission limits (6), the sulphur content of fuel will need to be reduced below current levels in many Member States, and it would seem necessary to define the characteristics of the reference fuel.

1.5   If the targets are to be met, the Committee believes that – beyond setting stringent limits – testing methods need to be in keeping with real-life situations and should limit the use of laboratory tests, which give theoretical results, and of irrational emission control methods. It is also necessary to carefully track the behaviour of exhaust from NRMM during their actual use, rather than the behaviour of and emissions from the engines in isolation, tested on a test bench.

1.6   The Committee would highlight its concerns as regards compliance with the dates set for the entry into force of stages III B and IV, and the relevant type-approval procedures, and wonders whether it would be advisable to move back the deadlines for stages III B and IV by two and three years respectively, to ensure full and proper compliance.

1.7   The Committee believes that the flexible compliance provisions and the transition period allowed between successive stages are particularly burdensome and demanding for SMEs, given that the costs involved – in the case of both machinery and engines – particularly for RTD and conformity assessment would naturally be significantly higher for a smaller company than for a major industrial group.

1.8   In the Committee's view, given that the mechanical wear and tear on non-road machinery is probably faster than the wear and tear on the engines  (7), it is important to consider the emission performance during the full useful life of the engine, including after mechanical parts of the machinery have been replaced. Generally accepted technical durability requirements should be introduced to avoid deterioration of emission performance over time.

1.9   The Committee thinks that the type-approval certificates referred to in Annex I should include not only a sample of the labels to be affixed to NRMM placed on the market under the flexibility scheme, and a sample of the supplementary label, but also a detailed description of the mandatory devices enabling compliance with the emission limits laid down in the directive under which type-approval was granted.

1.10   The Committee considers it vital to promote joint efforts at EU and international levels to draw up clear technical standards accepted by all, aimed at fostering exchanges across the industry at global level and progressively aligning the EU's emission limits with those in force or envisaged in third countries.

1.11   The Committee recommends that updated implementation guidelines be drawn up to facilitate implementation of the provisions laid down for the various stages not just by engine manufacturers but also, most importantly, by machinery manufacturers; it also recommends a participatory foresight exercise on the prospects for environmental protection in the area of NRMM and the possibility of promoting use of ecolabels in the sector.

1.11.1   The information campaign must make it clear, not just to manufacturers of NRMM and the machinery in which the modified engines are incorporated, but also to end users, that the provisions for the various stages of development of activities generating fewer emissions must be implemented correctly, opening up new green careers and user profiles with a European system for certifying new skills and appropriate support mechanisms, with the assistance of the social partners and public authorities

2.   Introduction

2.1   Directive 97/68/EC (NRMM – non-road mobile machinery) concerns compression ignition engines with a power of 18 kW to 560 kW. It sets limits for emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and particulates. The Directive sets out emission limit stages of increasing stringency with corresponding compliance dates, in respect of exhaust from:

diesel engines installed in construction machinery;

agricultural and forestry machinery;

railcars and locomotives;

inland waterway vessels;

constant speed engines; and

small petrol engines used in different types of machinery.

2.2   The NRMM legislation – on which the Committee has expressed its views on several occasions (8) – has been amended several times, by Directives 2001/63/EC, 2002/88/EC, and 2004/26/EC. The latter introduced the flexibility scheme to facilitate the transition between the different emission limit stages.

2.3   Most recently, Commission Directive 2010/26/EU of 31 March 2010 extended the derogation period for petrol (SI) engines used in certain small hand-held equipment to 31 July 2013 and clarified certain technical type-approval requirements which are necessary to meet Stage IIIB requirements. It also simplified the administrative procedure for flexibility applications.

2.4   Similar legislation exists in the USA, and to a lesser degree in Japan, while in other major economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil these requirements do not exist.

2.5   The flexibility scheme gives manufacturers the chance to adapt to the new standards, given that the technical solutions enabling engines to comply with the stage III B emission limits are not in general yet finalised and that further research and technological development is required by industry in order to ensure that machinery can be placed on the market with compliant III B engines  (9).

2.6   Moreover, the European NRMM industry has been badly hit since Autumn 2008 by the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis, particularly in the construction (10) and agricultural machinery sectors.

2.6.1   To safeguard both development of the industry and environmental protection:

the competitiveness of the European NRMM industry should be preserved, and the immediate pressure of the economic crisis alleviated;

the industry should be able to continue to fund R&D activities concerning all kinds of products, as part of Stage III B;

emissions should be limited, and old NRMM replaced with models with cleaner engines.

2.7   The approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the measures to be adopted to reduce the emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from internal combustion engines for installation in non-road mobile machinery is governed by Community provisions incorporating reduced flexibility mechanisms, which lay down increasingly stringent emission limits in the periods established for compliance.

2.8   The Commission has set itself the aim of attenuating as far as possible the rigid elements introduced, in order to take into account the impact of the economic crisis and the need to step up endeavours required for research and technological development, new applications and technical standardisation.

3.   The proposed amendment to the Directive

3.1   The proposal makes the following changes to Directive 97/68/EC.

3.1.1

An increase in the percentage relating to the number of engines used for application in land-based machines placed on the market under the flexibility scheme in each engine category. An increase from 20 % to 50 % of the OEM’s annual sales of equipment and a change to the maximum number of engines that may be placed on the market under the flexibility scheme as an optional alternative, in the period between emission Stage III A and emission Stage III B.

3.1.2

The possibility of including engines used for the propulsion of railcars and locomotives in the flexibility scheme. This would allow the OEM to place a small number of engines on the market under the flexibility scheme.

3.1.3

The measures are intended to expire on 31 December 2013.

3.2   The proposed option therefore aims to strengthen the existing flexibility scheme and extend it to other sectors. This solution is considered to be the most appropriate in terms of balance between environmental impact and economic benefits as it reduces the costs of bringing the market into line with the new emission limits.

4.   General comments

4.1   The Committee supports the Commission's approach of introducing greater flexibility into the various stages of applying the limits permitted for NRMM, in terms of emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates.

4.2   The Committee supports the Commission in its concern to preserve competition and job levels in the European NRMM industry from the impact of the international financial and economic crisis, while, at the same time, pursuing high levels of environmental protection and well-being for the European public.

4.3   As in previous opinions on Commission legislative proposals on reducing emissions, the Committee confirms its support for all Community initiatives aiming to achieve specific goals in reducing greenhouse gases, believing this to be a key element in combating climate change and in environmental and health protection.

4.4   The Committee therefore supports the Commission's proposal to increase the flexibility rate to 50 % for sectors already covered by flexibility mechanisms under the 1997 NRMM Directive and subsequent amendments, and to include railcars and locomotives in the flexibility scheme with a flexibility rate of 20 % of annual sales of machinery fitted with engines in the specified category.

4.5   The Committee reiterates once again (11) that emissions will only meet the new limit values if suitable fuels are actually available on the market, and warns that – given the technology needed to achieve the Stage B and IV limits for particulate and NOx emissions – the sulphur content in fuel will have to fall below current levels in many Member States, and a single reference fuel will have to be defined which is consistent with the fuel market situation (12).

4.6   Moreover, the Committee stresses the complex, sensitive nature of this review of the directive, which aims with good reason to further reduce emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates, without diminishing the competitiveness of the sectors concerned, which operate in a highly-competitive global market that is currently undergoing a huge-scale crisis.

4.7   In this connection, the Committee believes it is essential to encourage joint European and international endeavours to draw up clear, universally-accepted technical standards, to promote global trade with the aim of increasingly reconciling Community emission limits and those applied or planned in third countries.

4.8   The Committee shares the concerns of those who fear that the impact on industrial costs, R&TD costs and NRMM conformity assessment costs will be too high. If they are not anticipated and spread over time, these costs could jeopardise employment levels in the sectors concerned.

4.9   The Committee notes that, in order to be able to meet the objectives, in addition to stringent limits test procedures measuring tangible situations are needed; results solely from laboratories and irrational emission control strategies should be avoided, with the aim of recording, clearly and accurately, the behaviour of exhaust gases from non-road mobile machinery actually in use rather than just its performance on a test bench (13).

4.10   The sector's SMEs warrant particular attention. The Committee feels that the flexible compliance mechanisms, the implementation deadlines and the timeframes laid down for transition between the various phases for SMEs are particularly burdensome, given the costs of bringing machinery and engines into line, which are always much heavier for small businesses than for large industrial groups.

4.10.1   The Committee recommends that updated implementation guidelines be drawn up to facilitate implementation of the provisions laid down for the various stages not just by original engine manufacturers but also, most importantly, by the manufacturers of the machinery in which these engines will have to be inserted; it also recommends best practice manuals and a participatory foresight exercise on the prospects for environmental protection in the area of NRMM and the possibility of promoting use of ecolabels in the sector.

5.   Specific comments

5.1   The Committee stresses its concerns regarding compliance with the dates laid down for the entry into force of Stage III B and Stage IV, and the respective type approval procedures.

5.1.1   The Committee wonders whether it would not be appropriate to extend the implementation period by two years for Stage III B and three years for Stage IV, in order to ensure full, practical compliance with the provisions.

5.2   With regard to Annex I, the Committee believes that the type approval certificates provided for should include not just a sample of the labels for placing on the market under the flexibility scheme and a sample of the additional label, but also a detailed description of the devices required for compliance with the limits laid down by the provisions under which approval has been granted.

5.3   Lastly, the Committee feels it would be useful for the Commission to submit a report to the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee itself, describing, on the basis of data provided by producers, users and Member States, progress made in implementing the proposed directive and the impact thereof, in terms of both labour-market compatibility and tangible reduction of emissions and the contribution of NRMM to environmental protection and achievement of the EU 20-20-20 targets.

Brussels, 16 September 2010.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Mario SEPI


(1)  CO; NOx; HC; PM.

(2)  Machine manufacturers will have to fully redesign the structure of the machinery where the new engine is to be installed.

(3)  Directive 97/68/EC.

(4)  OJ C 220, 16.9.2003, p.16.

(5)  From 1 January 2011.

(6)  Cf. footnote 1.

(7)  Cf. footnote 4.

(8)  OJ C 407, 28.12.1998, OJ C 260, 17.9.2001, p. 1, OJ C 220, 16.9.2003, p. 16.

(9)  SEC(2010) 829, 7.7.2010 accompanying the proposal COM(2010) 362 final.

(10)  http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/mechanical/non-road-mobile-machinery/publications-studies/index_en.htm.

(11)  See footnote 4.

(12)  See Directive 2003/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 March 2003 amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels.

(13)  See, in particular, the UNECE work on Exhaust emissions test protocol of non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – Draft global technical regulation concerning the test procedure for compression-ignition (CI) engines to be installed in agricultural and forestry tractors and in non-road mobile machinery with regard to the emission of pollutants by the engine.