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Motor vehicles with trailers: polluting emissions

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Motor vehicles with trailers: polluting emissions

This Directive establishes limit values for emissions from petrol and diesel engine passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. It will be repealed in 2013 by the Regulation establishing the Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards.


Council Directive 70/220/EEC of 20 March 1970 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States on measures to be taken against air pollution by emissions from motor vehicles. [See amending acts].


This Directive and its subsequent amending directives cover motor vehicles with positive-ignition or compression-ignition engines:

  • intended for use on public roads;
  • with or without a body;
  • with at least four wheels;
  • with a maximum authorised mass not exceeding 3 500 kg and a maximum design speed of at least 50 km/h;
  • except for agricultural vehicles and machines and civil engineering equipment.

These Directives apply to tailpipe emissions, evaporative emissions, emissions of crankcase gases and the durability of anti-pollution devices for all motor vehicles equipped with positive-ignition engines. They also apply to the tailpipe emissions from and the durability of the anti-pollution devices of category M1 and N1 vehicles equipped with compression-ignition engines, with the exception of certain category N1 vehicles for which type-approval has been granted pursuant to Directive 88/77/EEC.

The Directives lay down different limit values for emissions from petrol and diesel cars:

  • of carbon monoxide;
  • of unburnt hydrocarbons;
  • of nitrogen oxides;
  • and, specifically for diesel engines, of particulate pollutants.

The most stringent values, laid down by Directive 98/69/EC, will apply from 2000 and 2005, according to the type of vehicle.

The new types of category M1 and N1 vehicles had to be fitted at the latest by 1 January 2005 (light diesel-engined commercial vehicles), 2000 (petrol-engined passenger cars) or 2003 (other types of vehicle) with an on-board diagnostic system (OBD) allowing emission levels to be checked and any malfunction in a vehicle's anti-pollution equipment to be detected.

Tax incentives granted by Member States to encourage advance compliance with new limit values are permitted on condition that they:

  • are valid for all new vehicles offered for sale within a Member State if they, in advance, meet the requirements of the existing Directives;
  • are discontinued on the date when the limit values are applied;
  • are worth less than the cost, including fitting, of the devices used on any type of motor vehicle in order to guarantee that the values laid down are not exceeded.

Procedure for the type-approval of vehicles:

  • the application for EC approval with regard to tailpipe emissions, evaporative emissions and the durability of anti-pollution devices is submitted by the vehicle manufacturer or by his authorised representative;
  • it must contain the information required under the Directives;
  • there are six types of type-approval test, depending on the category to which the vehicles belong. They concern:

- average tailpipe emissions after a cold start;

- carbon monoxide emissions at idling speed;

- emissions of crankcase gases;

- evaporative emissions;

- durability of anti-pollution devices;

- carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions after a cold start;

  • if the vehicle type meets the test requirements, an EC approval certificate is issued by the competent body of the Member State which is responsible for the type-approval.

Up to 28 September 1999, the full European test cycle provided for by Directive 91/441/EEC was used as the testing procedure in order to establish compliance with the limit values. Since that date, the test procedure introduced by Directive 98/69/EC has applied.

The clause concerning manufacturers whose worldwide annual production is less than 10 000 units allows them to obtain EC approval on the basis of the US emission standards or of the "master document" prepared by the international meeting in Stockholm on air pollution from motor vehicles, as an alternative to the European standards laid down by the Directives.

Subsequent improvement of the limit values

Prior to 31 December 1999, the Commission undertook to submit a new proposal to Parliament and the Council that was aimed at adding measures to the existing Directives to apply from 1 January 2005. Those proposals covered the following aspects:

  • the limit values for the cold-start tests;
  • roadworthiness testing of vehicles;
  • changes to the requirements concerning vehicle durability;
  • fuel quality standards;
  • the scope for reducing emissions through local measures, or measures relating to captive fleets, and for laying down environmental characteristics for tractor fuels and for engines to be fitted to off-road self-propelled equipment;
  • the requirements applying to the operation of an on-board measurement system (OBM).

When drawing up these proposals, the Commission had to take account of several factors: the contribution to air quality made by the Directives, an examination of technical feasibility and the cost-effectiveness ratio, the availability of advanced technologies and compatibility with other objectives.

The Commission also produced reports on the development of on-board diagnostic systems and on their extension to other safety-related electronic monitoring systems.

Directive 98/69/EC provides, where appropriate, for the drafting of standards concerning the type-approval of vehicles using alternative propulsion systems or alternative fuels.

Directive 2001/1/EC lays down the dates from which it is compulsory to install on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems in private and light commercial vehicles with positive-ignition engines running partly or wholly on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or natural gas (NG).

Directive 2001/100/EC sets the low-temperature emission limit values for certain light commercial vehicles and small vans (Euro 4 standard), and in particular:

  • the new types of light commercial vehicles (category N1 vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes) of weight class II (between 1 305 kg and 1 760 kg) and weight class III (greater than 1 760 kg);
  • the new types of private vehicles (category M1 vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat) designed to carry more than six occupants, and passenger cars with a maximum weight of over 2 500 kg.

The Euro 5 and Euro 6 Regulation adopted in 2007 sets stricter limits for pollutant emissions from light on-road vehicles, particularly with regard to emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides. It repeals Directive 70/220/EEC with effect from 2 January 2013.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 70/220/EEC



OJ L 76 of 6.4.1970

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 74/290/EEC



OJ L 159 of 15.6.1974

Directive 77/102/EEC



OJ L 32 of 3.2.1977

Directive 78/665/EEC



OJ L 223 of 14.8.1978

Directive 83/351/EEC



OJ L 197 of 20.7.1983

Directive 88/76/EEC



OJ L 36 of 9.2.1988

Directive 88/436/EEC



OJ L 214 of 6.8.1988

Directive 89/458/EEC



OJ L 226 of 3.8.1989

Directive 89/491/EEC



OJ L 238 of 15.8.1989

Directive 91/441/EEC



OJ L 242 of 30.8.1991

Directive 93/59/EEC



OJ L 186 of 28.7.1993

Directive 94/12/EC



OJ L 100 of 19.4.1994

Directive 96/44/EC



OJ L 210 of 20.8.1996

Directive 96/69/EC



OJ L 282 of 1.11.1996

Directive 98/69/EC



OJ L 350 of 28.12.1998

Directive 98/77/EC



OJ L 286 of 23.10.1998

Directive 99/102/EC



OJ L 334 of 28.12.1999

Directive 2001/1/EC



OJ L 35 of 6.2.2001

Directive 2001/100/EC



OJ L 16 of 18.1.2002

Directive 2002/80/EC



OJ L 291 of 28.10.2002

Directive 2003/76/EC



OJ L 206 of 15.8.2003

Directive 2006/96/EC



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006


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 [Official Journal L 171, 29.6.2007]. This Regulation tightens pollutant emission limits applicable to light on-road vehicles, especially with regard to particulates and nitrogen oxides (Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards). It also includes measures relating to access to information on vehicles and their components, the possibility of tax incentives, and the type approval and guarantee of the vehicles concerned. With effect from 2 January 2013, this Regulation repeals Directive 70/220/EC.

Commission Communication of 5 October 2000: A Review of the Auto-Oil II Programme [COM(2000) 626 final - not published in the Official Journal]. The Communication reviews the approach taken in the Auto-Oil II programme and reports on the key results. It also reports on the progress of certain related legislative proposals and makes suggestions for the future.

A programme estimate regarding emissions from road transport suggests that emissions of the traditionally regulated pollutants will fall to less than 20% of their 1995 levels by 2020, whereas CO2 emissions will continue to rise until at least 2005. The share of overall CO2 emissions attributable to road transport will have fallen substantially between 1990 and 2010 and the relative importance of other sectors will have risen correspondingly. The Auto-Oil II programme provides for a large improvement in urban air quality by 2010. The most important remaining challenges concern particulates, regional tropospheric ozone levels and localised instances of non-compliance with nitrogen dioxide targets. An assessment of policy options has led to the identification of cost-effective options for reducing emissions from 2-wheeled and 3-wheeled vehicles. Non-technical measures have demonstrated their potential for reducing emissions and cutting costs in cities. Fiscal measures have also been shown to provide a win-win solution for both the environment and the economy. The programme has shown that, in order to come up with a set of cost-effective measures, an integrated approach is required which encompasses emission sources, pollutants and measures.

Last updated: 13.03.2008