BRUSSELS -- European Union countries are debating a compromise that would delay and weaken the planned Euro 7 regulation, which stiffen exhaust emissions limits for non-CO2 pollutants such carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
Eight EU nations — including France and Italy — have opposed tighter rules, arguing that automakers are already under strain to meet the bloc's planned ban on sales of new CO2-emitting cars in 2035 to reduce greenhouse gases.
The EU progressively tightened road vehicle emission limits since the first set of regulations, known as Euro 1, in 1992.
European automakers say Euro 7 — set to come into force from 2025 — is too costly and the environmental gains would be negligible.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has said the proposals would lead to higher prices for smaller vehicles, limiting freedom of movement for poorer households.
Spain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, is hoping to present the compromise draft at the competitiveness council next week, but the countries have not yet agreed, diplomatic sources said.
In the draft presented by Spain, the implementation deadlines of mid-2025 for cars and mid-2027 for trucks would be pushed back.
Cars and small trucks will now only have to comply 24 months after the regulation comes into force and 48 months for buses and trucks over 3.5 tons.
Countries pushing to weaken the Euro 7 limits have expressed concerns about "significant development capacity and investment required on top of that already being put into electrification and overall benefits to be gained from the proposed approach," the draft document said.
The Brussels-based Transport and Environment lobby group criticized the draft saying countries had "caved into automaker threats ... condemning people to avoidable ill health and premature death for decades to come."
"In this new proposal by the Spanish Presidency: Emission limits for cars have been weakened. No change in emission limits for cars and vans compared to Euro 6, even for diesel which is allowed to emit more NOx (nitrous oxide) pollution than petrol," T&E wrote on Wednesday.
The move to water down the emissions rules comes as high inflation and concern over the cost of green reform spur a European backlash against the speed of the transition.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the EU should drop the Euro 7 standard as it would cost European automakers “useless money” at a crucial time of transition.
Once EU countries agree their position on Euro 7, they will enter into negotiations with the European Parliament over the final shape of the deal.
Bloomberg contributed to this report