The European Commission's proposed Euro 7 standard for cars, vans, trucks and buses is meeting with widespread criticism from industry. It would be tantamount to a ban through the back door on internal combustion engines from 2025 and is premature, according to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).
In its recently published statement, the VDMA - with around 3,300 members the largest industrial association in Europe - emphasises the essential contribution that the Euro 7 exhaust emission standard will make, but the stricter regulations planned for 2025 are ecologically and economically misguided, as they would mean the abrupt end of the internal combustion engine. According to VDMA President Karl Haeusgen, the use of efficient combustion engines is particularly important in this decade, especially since they can be operated climate-neutrally with eFuels in sight and make the mass of existing vehicles more climate-friendly. An abrupt end to the combustion engine for cars and trucks would not only prevent innovation and progress in this technology, but would also indirectly endanger the security of supply for the people of Europe. Furthermore, a reduction of exhaust emission values at the planned level is unnecessary, because modern diesel engines are already much cleaner than prescribed. According to the German Federal Environment Agency, the real emissions of a Euro 6 diesel car are 40 mg/km, 50 per cent below the current NOx limit. This means that new vehicles are well below the current EU air pollution targets. On the other hand, the EU plans are counterproductive because they ignore climate protection. In addition to the technical and ecological problems, the VDMA also points to the danger of job losses in the automotive and supplier industry. Instead, exhaust gases and CO2 emissions must be reduced with the help of many different new technological developments. The use of hydrogen and synthetic fuels also in new vehicles is just as much a part of this as the further optimisation of the combustion engine, the use of fuel cell technology and a rapidly growing number of battery-powered vehicles. Such a broad-based modernisation would advance not only the automotive industry but also user sectors such as construction and agricultural machinery manufacturers in their transformation process. Similar criticism was also voiced by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA).
Against the background of this vocal criticism from the industry, on 16 February 2021 Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, answered a question from Harald Vilimsky (ID/FPÖ, AT) on the planned Euro 7 Regulation. Vilimsky had asked whether the Commission shared the fears of the automotive industry that combustion engines would be phased out as early as 2025 as a result of the introduction of Euro 7, thus destroying Germany's strongest industrial sector. He also asked whether the Commission was aware that the stricter limit values demanded were not technically feasible and therefore not realistic. Commissioner Thierry Breton replied to the questions by saying that the work on the future Euro 7 emission standard is an important element of the Commission's work towards zeroemission transport in order to protect the health of citizens and the environment while strengthening the competitiveness of the automotive industry. The Commission's aim is to ensure that internal combustion engines operate with the best possible environmental performance. This will also help to regain the confidence of citizens in an automotive industry that protects their health and the environment while strengthening its competitiveness. To support this work, the Commission has commissioned two research projects to develop different scenarios. These scenarios will be further explored in the impact assessment, which will be completed in the second quarter of 2021. One public and two targeted consultations have already taken place. Stakeholders and Member States are also closely involved in the development of Euro 7 through the Vehicle Emission Standards Advisory Group. The Commission will then be able to present a legislative proposal that takes into account health and environmental aspects as well as technical feasibility and costs.