The European Parliament adopted a report on introducing new rules on the registration, sale and use of cars, with the aim of improving road safety and protecting the environment.
Ordinary tyres, all-weather tyres and snow tyres, the design and manufacture of cars in general and the use of modern technology on cars - all these things influence the safety and environmental impact of motor vehicles. A single regulation, directly applicable in all the Member States, will soon synthesise all the rules on these matters, replacing around fifty existing directives. The purpose of the new regulation is also to enhance the competitiveness of the European automotive industry. The consolidated amended text of the report by Andreas Schwab (EPP-ED, DE), reflects a first-reading agreement and was adopted by 610 votes to 34 with 20 abstentions in Strasbourg.
Following the vote, Mr Schwab stated: "We have succeeded in improving road safety in Europe by going further than the Commission proposed. In particular we achieved the early introduction of Electronic Stability Control Systems for all vehicles, and in general, new technologies shall be pushed ahead faster, encouraging in the process the competitiveness of European manufacturers, and to set better safety standards and lower sound limits in future years and thus improve public health and safety by reducing harmful road traffic noise, and promoting cleaner and safer car technology".
The safety of road vehicles is steadily improving, the number of people killed on Europe's roads having fallen by 24% since 2001 thanks to better car design and manufacture. In this area the new regulation lays down a number of rules to be observed by manufacturers. But new safety technology, already available on a significant number of new vehicles, can also help cut accident risks. The regulation will make such technology compulsory on all cars, for example electronic stability control (ESC), which helps the driver keep control of his vehicle. Advanced emergency braking (AEBS) and lane departure warning systems (LDWS) are also to be made compulsory on lorries. MEPs resisted the Commission's proposal to install such systems on other vehicles, because the systems were devised for lorries and are not suited to other vehicles such as private cars.
Greater environmental protection, lower energy consumption
Some of the rules on tyre standards have also been revised, not just as regards safety but also their environmental impact. Tyre rolling resistance and pressure affect the noise levels and CO2 emitted by vehicles. The new regulation lays down various standards on tyres which will cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. It also makes the installation of tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) compulsory. This measure will apply to private cars.
MEPs also drew a clear link between this proposal and the CO2 package, and stressed the need for accurate TPMS on cars, because significant fuel consumption gains are best insured by properly inflated tyres, with significant fuel consumption losses incurred with only a marginal tyre pressure loss. MEPs did not vote to extend this requirement to lorries but they beefed up the rules on the effectiveness and reliability of such systems, without giving preference to any particular technology. The House also tightened up the definitions of tyres, for example limiting the possibility of installing off-road professional tyres on 4x4 cars marketed for private or leisure use.
Gradual entry into force
The new regulation will be easier to apply and easier for consumers and industry to understand. It replaces a number of directives, is directly applicable in the Member States and reflects car safety standards harmonised by the United Nations.
The new regulation shall apply from 1 November 2011, a year earlier than the Commission proposed. But various transition periods are provided for, in some cases until 2018, to enable the car industry to adapt to the new requirements.
"My main concern is to ensure that this European regulation does not impose extra costs on consumers and manufacturers. We want to see to it that drivers will save money by using less petrol in a healthier environment with lower CO2 emissions", commented the rapporteur.
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