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COMBATING AIR POLLUTION
A summary paper on air pollution and the latest developments concerning unleaded petrol and motor vehicle exhausts has been forwarded officially to the Commission. The latter has issued guidelines for future negotiations so that, in accordance with the European Council's request, decisions can be reached at the Environment Council on 7 March. COMMISSION GUIDELINES (a) Lead in petrol Although it regards the deadline proposed by Parliament for the compulsory introduction of unleaded petrol - 1 October 1986 - as unrealistic, it might be prepared to bring forward slightly the proposed date of 1 October 1989, provided that this is compatible with the deadlines laid down for the reduction of emissions. (b) Emissions Whilst agreeing that urgent action is essential in order to protect the environment and preserve the unity of the Community's internal market for motor vehicles, the Commission takes the view that, given the time needed by the automobile industry to adjust, the deadline which Parliament has proposed for reaching emission standards equivalent to those in the USA - 1 October 1986 - cannot be met. Such a deadline, moreover, would probably mean excluding any technology that was cheaper than catalytic converters an might be applied subsequently. As regards the exemptions to be granted by the Commission in cases of technical or economic difficulty, the Commission fears that too many exemptions could nullify the environmental advantages of such a proposal and could adversely affect the unity of the internal market and create uncertainty in industry. The Commission's position as regards the future negotiations is as follows therefore: - 2 - - It cannot accept that the new emission standards should be made compulsory by October 1986 but it is prepared to change its original proposals in order to speed up their introduction; - It is ready to contemplate an approach based on a sliding scale according to engine capacity. ANNEX ACTION BY THE VARIOUS COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS WHICH HAS LED TO THE NEGOTIATIONS (a) See P-40 (May 1984) for the Commission's orginial proposal on abolishing leaded petrol and reducing vehicle emissions. (b) The Council held a thorough discussion of both matters on 6 December last and Parliament delivered its Opinion on 12 December. Although the Council has made substantial progress as regards the reduction of lead in petrol by generally following the Commission's proposals (compulsory sale of unleaded petrol from 1 October 1989), the Member States' positions on the reduction of emissions from motor vehicles remain relatively divergent. The high-level working party set up by the Council to prepare fresh negotiations on this subject is to submet its report by the end of January. (c) In its resolution of 12 December 1984, Parliament proposed that Community emission standards equivalent to those obtaining in the USA should be made compulsory from 1 October 1986, though an exemption was to be granted by the Commission in cases where this was precluded by technical or economic difficulties. As regards lead in petrol, Parliament also proposed, in its Opinion, that the date by which Member States must make unleaded petrol available should be brought forward to 1 October 1986. (d) Finally, the European Council in Dublin asked the Environment Ministers "to make every effort to reach agreement on the guidelines for a Community policy on
the reduction of lead in petrol and vehicle emissions".