European Parliament

More science funding needed to meet CO2 targets for car industry

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Source: European Parliament

Research funding needs to be increased to meet binding CO2 targets in the car industry, says the European Parliament's report on a competitive automotive regulatory framework (CARS 21). The House adds that cars should be permitted to emit more CO2 if these emissions result from mandatory safety measures, and that intellectual property rights must be effectively protected worldwide. The report was adopted with 607 votes in favour, 76 against and 14 abstentions.


The own-initiative report by Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (ALDE, DE) stresses the economic importance of the European automotive industry as a sector producing 19 million vehicles yearly and providing 2.3 million direct jobs and a further 10 million in ancillary sectors. MEPs say that, while the industry will have to undergo substantial change, adjustments in EU policy will also be needed to ensure regulations do not lead to job losses.
 
Allow higher CO2 emissions if they result from safety measures
 
As the development of new types of passenger cars takes about five to seven years, MEPs urge the Commission not to set any final mandatory targets for CO2 emissions for any date before 2015. From then on, however, an average target of 125g/km of CO2 emissions for new passenger cars should be achievable, says the report.
 
MEPs stress that additional safety systems might increase the weight of passenger cars and thus lead to higher CO2 emissions. They therefore call on the Commission to develop a system that allows car manufacturers to emit additional CO2 if these are a result of legally binding safety measures.
 
Increase research funding to meet CO2 targets
 
Binding CO2 targets have to be accompanied by an increase in Member States' funding for research and development for the automobile sector, says the report. The European Parliament  suggests that one of the first knowledge and innovation communities of the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) should address CO2 reduction through vehicle technology.
 
Effective protection of intellectual property rights
 
MEPs are concerned that the European automotive industry might lose its position as one of the most competitive industries in the world due to 'unfair competition and the infringement of intellectual property rights'.  'Effective protection of IPR' should be a precondition for any partnership with China.
 
Within the EU's current negotiations for a free-trade agreement with Korea, the removal of that country's non-tariff barriers is seen as essential, and any strategy of phasing out EU import tariffs should depend on this, says the House.
 
A common market for spare parts
 
The Commission should come forward with proposals to create a common market for custom and tuning parts such as special tyres, wheels and other tuning and spare parts.  The European Parliament stresses that independent operators should have genuine access to technical information, training, spare parts, multi-band diagnostic tools and testing equipment.
 
Motor sport and hybrid engines
 
MEPs recognise the role motor sport can play in changing attitudes and customer behaviour towards environmentally friendly technology. The House therefore asks the FIA and others involved in Formula 1 to change their rules accordingly, so that environmentally friendly technologies like bio-fuels, four-cylinder engines or hybrid can be more easily applied.
 
Membership of CARS 21 high level group
 
Among the Members of the CARS 21 high level group are:
 
Malcolm Harbour Member of the European Parliament (EPP-ED, Conservative, West Midlands, UK), Joint Chairman Forum for the automobile and society. Margaret Beckett at the time was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom.
 
Debate in Strasbourg plenary - Monday 14 January 2008 - British speakers in the debate
 
Malcolm Harbour (West Midlands, Conservative, EPP-ED, UK) said: 'One of the things that we ask from the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is for this Parliament to take an initiative in getting other national parliamentarians together in this House to talk in the framework of CARS 21 about how they, as national and local politicians, are going to contribute to these overall goals of achieving a competitive car industry with the highest possible technology and preserving and developing jobs and employment, while achieving the goals that we all want to meet in terms of science, safety and environmental improvements.'
 
Gary Titley (North West, Labour, PES UK) said 'Yes to simplification, replacing 38 directives with UN regulations – as long as we are not seen as abdicating our right to legislate should we need to – and yes to the development of technologically driven solutions such as ECOR. But I would hope that the Commission could take more action, as Ms Mann has suggested, on intellectual property rights, particularly in relation to China. We would like to see a proper implementation of the Regulation on Motor Vehicle Distribution in the EU and we believe it is fundamental to address non-harmonised implementation, the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive.
 
We have to improve cross-border inspections of vehicles and cross border enforcement of traffic rules in other Member States, because otherwise the whole situation becomes very disparate. But, like Mr Turmes, I believe that what we should be looking for is a framework which extends to 2020 and beyond.'
 
Chris Davies, (North West, Liberal Democrat, ALDE, UK) said: 'The car industry should have reduced its emissions by a great deal more than it has, but we are where we are and it takes time to achieve change economically, so I welcome the rapporteur’s proposal to set a target of 125 g by 2015, to bring it in line with the vote of this Parliament last October. 
 

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