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European Commission - Press release

CARS 21 Group calls for action to keep auto industry fit

Brussels 2 December 2011 – The European vehicle industry has impressively recovered from a severe slump in the wake of financial crisis in 2008, in particular by profiting from growth on third markets. But today’s weakened business confidence risks to worsen the good performance of the car industry again. Moreover competition from Asia is likely to put more pressure on EU industry in the years to come. Therefore, the CARS 21 High Level Group adopted today a first set of recommendations for the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the European automotive industry.

The report calls for ensuring level playing field for the EU industry worldwide. Free Trade Agreements should aim at full tariff dismantling and removal of non-tariff barriers. Moreover, all relevant stakeholders should advocate the introduction of a world wide system for the approval of vehicles in the 1958 UNECE Agreement (which ensures international harmonisation of vehicle regulations).

In addition, the report recommends limiting vehicle noise, a more "real-world driving" measurement procedure for emissions and fuel consumption as well as an appropriate methodology for evaluating the CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles. Member States should better coordinate financial incentives to enable large scale production of clean vehicles. Therefore incentives should be based on objective and commonly available performance data. The group also calls for a portfolio of alternative fuels and the related infrastructure to be deployed.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "The success of European vehicle manufacturers in third markets is a role model for other manufacturing services. But we need to ensure that this will continue. Therefore the leadership of EU industry in clean vehicle technologies needs to be secured. Without a strong commitment to continued innovation this will not happen".

Further documents can be found on the website of DG Enterprise & Industry:


Today’s gathering several Ministers, CEOs, Commissioners and other prominent stakeholders endorsed an interim report which will be further developed at the end of the process in spring 2012 representing a full-fledged EU strategy for the European automotive industrial sector in 2020 and beyond. Today’s Interim Report focuses on the actions needed to maintain a competitive manufacturing base in Europe and to ensure the development of sustainable technologies.

The CARS 21 High Level Group on the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the automotive industry in the EU was re-launched on 10 November 2010 (IP/10/1491), based on Commission Decision of 14 October 2010. It gathers prominent representatives of the EU Member States, other institutions, automotive industry, Trade Unions, NGO, users and the Commission.

The CARS21 process is built on a three-level structure:

  • the High Level Group (Ministers, CEOs and Presidents of associations, etc.)

  • the “Sherpa” group responsible for preparing the input to the HLG

  • the Working groups, responsible for specific topics to be tackled at technical experts level.

In addition, a public hearing has been organised on 13 May 2011 in order to gather input from additional interested stakeholders.

The European automotive industry is a key sector for the European economy, providing over 12 million jobs and a positive contribution to the trade balance of around € 70 billion, which is essential for continued European prosperity.

More information: MEMO/11/862

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 299 0403

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