Additional measures for clean and safer cars in Europe: challenges for motor-industry

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The EU’s ambitious goal to region’s zero-emission by 2050 requires a fundamental reduction of all sorts of pollution and harmful emissions. Present reform is an integral part of the Commission’s work for a clean, sustainable and competitive car sector. While complementing the EU institutions’ work towards cleaner and safer mobility, present measures are a part of the resilience’s measures for the future-oriented investments in infrastructure and innovation. Together with the EU, the member states would aim at restoring consumer confidence while strengthening the single market and supporting transport sector’s long-term viability and competitiveness.

  Present reform is an addition to numerous EU’s efforts towards clean, sustainable and competitive car sector in the member states; e.g. some type-approval rules were proposed by the Commission as early as 2016 in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2018. Generally, Commission’s modern efforts include air quality and CO2 standards, the improvement of emission testing for cars and the support for alternative fuels and battery production. 

More in the Commission Communication on the third reform package “Europe on the Move”, in:


  In 2018, the EU adopted rules required that all new car models would have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions (“Real Driving Emissions” legislation, RDE) as well as an improved laboratory test (“World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure”, WLTP). See more in:


  Type approval is the process for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for rigorous checking of manufacturers’ ongoing compliance with EU law, including emissions limits as laid out in separate regulation. The EU’s long-term goal is to reach almost zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 (“Vision Zero”).

  Commission initiatives include air quality and CO2 standards, the improvement of emission testing for cars or the support for alternative fuels and battery production and defending the competitiveness of European motor industry. The new EU vehicle approval framework significantly raises the quality level and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increases checks of cars that are already on the EU market and strengthens the overall system with European oversight. 

More in: EU Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles


  Adopted in May 2018, the new Regulation significantly overhauls and tightens the previous type approval and market surveillance system. It improves the quality and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increases checks of cars already on the EU market and strengthens the overall system with greater European oversight.

  With this reform package, the Commission is completing its agenda for a low-emission mobility system by putting forward the first ever CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles. In 2025, average CO2 emissions from new trucks will have to be 15% lower than in 2019; and for 2030, an indicative reduction target of at least 30% compared to 2019 is proposed.

  These targets are consistent with the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement and will allow transport companies (mostly SMEs) to make significant savings thanks to lower fuel consumption (€25,000 over five years). To allow for further CO2 reductions, the Commission is making it easier to design more aerodynamic trucks and is improving labeling for tyres. In addition, the Commission is putting forward a comprehensive action plan for batteries that will help create a competitive and sustainable battery “ecosystem” in Europe.

Additional reference to:


New rules: key elements

  As the Commission acknowledged, the European citizens would drive the cleanest and safest cars: that presupposes a stricter controls of cars with a real enforcement in the member states concerning two main goals: less polluting transport and safer mobility.

The new rules are opening new opportunities for the development of the European-wide motor industry. The following are the main elements in the new rules:

= Independence and quality of testing before a car is placed on the market: Technical services performing testing and inspections of new car models will be independently audited on the basis of stringent criteria to obtain and keep their designation by a member state. National type approval authorities are now subject to peer reviews to ensure that the relevant rules are implemented and enforced rigorously.

= Checks on cars already on the market: The new framework also improves checks on the vehicles that are already circulating on the market and are for sale through dealers. From now on, the states are required to regularly test a minimum number of cars and are now able to take safeguard measures against non-compliant vehicles on their territory without waiting for the authority that issued the type approval to take action.

= European oversight: the Commission is now able to carry out compliance and conformity checks on vehicles in laboratories or on the road. In cases where manufacturers are in breach of type-approval legislation (e.g. defeat devices or fake declarations), the Commission can order EU-wide recalls and impose sanctions on those manufacturers of up to € 30 000 per car. Until today, only national authorities that type approved the car could impose such measures.

  Since the adoption of the Regulation in 2018, car manufacturers, type approval agencies and other stakeholders have been working continuously to implement the new rules and adapt to the stricter requirements.



  The Commission has provided additional resources for the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) to take up this new role in market surveillance, funding necessary extra staff, operational costs and the construction of two new laboratories. The JRC avails of two new state-of-the-art laboratories to conduct checks.


National transport sector’s market: effects of the rules

  The EU states will designate national technical services to test and inspect new car models. From now on, these technical services will be regularly and independently audited, on the basis of stringent performance criteria, to obtain and maintain their designation by a state for testing and inspecting new car models. 

  National authorities will have to use accreditation bodies to assess and certify the full remit of technical services or otherwise technical services to be designated will be subject to joint audits by the Commission with national experts from other states, including on-site visits to testing facilities. The member states will be able to challenge a designation when something is wrong. The Commission will have the power to suspend, restrict or withdraw the designation of technical services that are underperforming and too lax in applying the rules.


  When a manufacturer is preparing the launch of a new model on the EU market, the technical services that perform the official type-approval testing will continue to be paid directly by car manufacturers. As regards vehicles that are already available on the market and for sale at the dealerships, the new EU type approval framework requires that all EU states make sure that there is enough national funding available in each country to test a minimum number of vehicles.

  All EU states have to carry out a verification test on at least one car for every 40,000 new registered motor vehicles with a focus on emission testing and safety. As soon as almost 18 million new cars were registered in the EU in 2019, this would mean that thousands of surveillance checks would have to be carried in the states to meet the new obligations. 

  While the states have the discretion to decide on the exact penalties system (including the level of penalties), typically the range of penalties levels are at the state’s discretion on a case by case approach. 

  Before authorising a vehicle type to be placed on the EU market, national authorities need to certify compliance with safety rules (installation of lights, braking performance, stability control, crash tests with dummies), emissions limits (see below) and production requirements (of individual parts and components, such as seats or steering wheel airbags). The requirements that need to be met differ case by case, depending on the category of vehicle and other classifications. 


Additional EU’s control

  A practical result of the new rules is that the EU states will be forced to apply stricter rules to pollution control while the EU institutions would impose greater scrutiny. The states will have to review regularly the functioning of the auto-market surveillance and make the results publicly available. National type-approval authorities will be subject to peer evaluations if they assess their own technical services instead of the national accreditation bodies, but they will always be subject to an independent assessment carried out directly by the Commission to ensure that the relevant rules are implemented and enforced rigorously across the EU. 

  The EU’s “Enforcement Forum” will coordinate the network of national authorities responsible for type-approval and market surveillance; it will also have an advisory role to promote good practices, exchange of information on enforcement problems and penalties, cooperation, development of working methods and tools, development of an electronic information exchange platform, evaluation of harmonised enforcement projects and joint audits; the member states will nominate their representatives in the Forum.

  Existing market surveillance platforms, such as Rapid Alert System and the Information and Communication System on Market Surveillance will be further used and strengthened for exchange of information of market surveillance activities.   

  The new type-approval regulation is a framework that governs the main components of vehicle type-approval and all the underlying topics that are relevant for such approval. While they are both very important, emissions testing (based on Real Driving Emissions and Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedures) are merely two aspects of a much broader set of technical requirements for environmental and safety performance (e.g. emissions, lighting, crashworthiness, breaking, pedestrian protection) to overall approval of a car. These systems are tested independently from each other, on complete (prototype) vehicles against detailed technical prescriptions and by following a similar procedural logic. 

General link:


More information in the following web links: = Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; = Q&A published on the new EU type-approval rules for safer and cleaner cars.

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