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Traffic in Berlin (picture from 2021)

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At a ministerial meeting in Brussels, the EU member states agreed on a position on the planned Euro 7 emissions standard – which is now likely to be less stringent than the EU Commission and the German government are striving for. Previously, Germany had failed at the last minute with its attempt to introduce short-term changes to the regulation.

The emission standards regulate the pollutant emissions of vehicles such as cars, vans and trucks throughout Europe. According to the will of the ministers, Euro 7 should not change the limits introduced since 2014 with the Euro 6 standard. The exhaust gases are also tested under mild conditions, so that significantly increased emissions are likely to remain permitted, for example during cold starts.

According to SPIEGEL information, the Green-led ministries for the environment and economic affairs wanted to enforce stricter exhaust emission limits and stricter rules for emissions tests than some other member states wanted.

It's no longer just the exhaust in view

The EU Commission's proposal last November was sharply criticised by environmental associations. The authority had suggested that only the limits for carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which are different for petrol and diesel engines, should be adjusted to the stricter value in each case. Tightening measures previously discussed in expert committees were rejected so as not to burden industry and consumers.

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is responsible for more than 300,000 premature deaths annually, much of it from road traffic.

What is new with Euro 7 is that, in addition to exhaust gases from the exhaust, other sources of harmful particulate matter will also be regulated in the future: the abrasion of tires or brakes. This means that electric cars would also be affected by the rules. In addition, the regulation includes minimum battery life requirements for electric cars and sets stricter requirements for how long vehicles should last.

The car industry in particular had campaigned for a weakening of the emissions standard and warned of additional costs of thousands of euros for new cars. The EU Commission, on the other hand, stated that its proposal would only increase the price of gasoline cars by around 100 euros. A number of member states joined the criticism of Euro 7, including Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP), in contrast to the coalition partners.

After the vote of the EU states, the new Euro 7 emissions standard has not yet been finalized. The EU Parliament, which is also involved in the legislation, also has to agree on a position. In a final step, a compromise must be found between the demands of the Parliament and the EU states.