EU Council sees sense on Euro 7 emission standards

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IRU welcomes the adoption of the Council’s general approach on Euro 7, which includes several improvements compared to the original proposal. This followed repeated calls from IRU and the road transport sector to establish a more pragmatic approach to emission standards, better balancing overall costs and benefits.

With CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles on their way, road transport operators are keen to see that their path to carbon neutrality includes several decarbonisation options.

IRU supported the European Commission’s efforts to continue proposing solutions to reduce pollutant emissions for vehicles based on all technologies, including the internal combustion engine, but was concerned by the original Euro 7 proposal’s lack of proportionality.

The Council’s general approach considerably lowers the cumbersome and costly new testing requirements that were proposed by the European Commission, marginally straying away from existing Euro 6 regulations.

Fundamentally altering the testing conditions would require substantial investment, without significantly improving environmental benefits.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “We welcome the Council’s decision to balance environmental performance with the cost of upgrading technologies. The benefits of the Euro 7 proposed by the European Commission would have been incremental and minor in comparison to the costs of enacting the standards.”

Testing and data approaches

Euro 7 simplifies test procedures and improves the efficiency of drivers and transport operators by enhancing digitalisation related to continuous emission monitoring systems. Nevertheless, sharing in-vehicle data over-the-air introduces issues related to competitive disadvantages and cybersecurity.

The Council’s general approach indicates that data on exhaust emissions, including pollutant sensor and exhaust flow data, must be communicated anonymously via on-board diagnostic systems and over the air.

“We are particularly pleased that EU countries agreed to keep existing Euro 6 testing conditions and partially lowered emission limits for some categories of heavy-duty vehicles, although further improvement is expected from the European Parliament,” said Raluca Marian.

“Data remains a weak spot of the proposal. Even when done anonymously, transferring data over-the-air exposes transport companies to cybersecurity risks. It can also lead to competitive disadvantages for small- and medium-sized operators. Larger companies can still use and analyse anonymous data to determine average fuel consumption on specific roads and adapt accordingly,” she added.

The Council’s approach also allows for more predictability on how far a vehicle can travel once a repair warning flashes on the dashboard.

“Forcing heavy-duty vehicles to pull over the instant a repair warning is displayed is a safety concern. We’re glad that the Council has allowed reason to prevail on this crucial point, not requiring drivers to abandon their operation mid-route as soon as a repair warning is triggered,” said Raluca Marian.

Additionally, the Council’s text strengthens the alignment of both brake particle emission limits and tyre abrasion rate limits with international standards adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

“We hope that the Commission and Parliament see how the Council’s proposal is not only more pragmatic and reasonable for road transport companies, it actually increases the European Union’s chances to meet its decarbonisation targets,” concluded Raluca Marian.