Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Sixth Report




PE-CONS 3615/02

Joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee of a draft Directive on the reduction of the level of pollutant emissions from two and three-wheel motor vehicles and amending Directive 97/24/EC.

Legal base:

Article 95EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting


Document originated:

30 April 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

16 May 2002



Basis of consideration:

EM of 17 May 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None; but see footnotes

To be discussed in Council:

Not applicable

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Not cleared; further information awaited



    1. Although measures have been taken by the Community in recent years to reduce emissions from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, no such steps had been taken for motor cycles. The Commission therefore put forward in June 2000 a proposal[14] which would introduce emission limits in two stages — the first involving specified limits from 1 January 2003 for new types of cycle (and from 1 July 2004 for existing types), and the second a further tightening from 2006, but with the exact requirements then left to be specified later. This was cleared by the previous Committee in July 2000 on the basis of a Report to the House, and we cleared in July 2001 an Explanatory Memorandum[15] providing details of the Common Position reached by the Council.
    2. We next considered a document[16] relating to the amendments put forward to that Common Position by the European Parliament at its second reading in December 2001, the main difference between the two positions being that the Parliament had proposed that the standards to apply in 2006 should be set now. We were told that this was opposed by the Council (including the UK) and the Commission, on the grounds that it would pre-empt the finalisation of a new test for motor cycle emissions which was currently under development, in addition to which the UK was keen to allow industry sufficient time to adapt to any new standards, given its fairly fragile economic state and the relatively low environmental benefits which will arise from the proposal. Since it was our impression that any move towards the Parliament's position — for example, by bringing forward from 2006 the date for setting the standards for the next phase — would be the subject of new proposals, which could then be considered on their merits, we again cleared the document without a Report to the House.
    3. The current document

    4. We have since received under cover of an Explanatory Memorandum of 17 May 2002 from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Transport (Mr David Jamieson) the text approved jointly by the Council and European Parliament in the Conciliation Committee. As the Minister makes clear, this sets mandatory emission limits for 2003 as provided for in the Common Position, but it also imposes a further reduction in such limits for 2006 (which moreover would be further enhanced by the application of the more stringent test cycle used for passenger vehicles). In addition, the Commission is required to bring forward an amendment to the Directive in order to introduce as soon as possible a dedicated motor test cycle with equivalent limit values, with the two systems running in parallel initially.
    5. The Government's view

    6. The Minister says that, throughout the conciliation discussions, the UK maintained its support for what it considers to be the essential elements of the Common Position as described in the Explanatory Memorandum provided in June 2001. In particular, it supported the need for new mandatory provisions for 2006 to be developed within the framework of a technology review, including provision for a dedicated test cycle, that takes full account of the cost implications, and their impact on small series and low volume manufacturers. He adds that, by setting a second stage for mandatory limits — and, in principle, other requirements — for 2006 in advance of such a review, the Government believes that the principle of better regulation, endorsed by Heads of Government at the Barcelona European Council, have not been observed. He says that, in view of this, the UK intended to abstain in the Council vote at third reading.
    7. The Minister also says that a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment, taking into account the additional requirements resulting from the agreed Joint Text, was being prepared and would be submitted as soon as possible.
    8. Conclusion

    9. We are concerned that, as compared with our earlier understanding of the position, the text agreed in the conciliation process between the Council and the European Parliament contains a number of unexpected flaws so far as the UK is concerned. We recognise of course that this text has now been adopted, and that the focus will presumably switch to the implications of introducing a dedicated motor test cycle. Nevertheless, we do not think it would be right to clear the current document before having a proper indication of the likely cost implications, and we are therefore holding it under scrutiny pending receipt of the promised Regulatory Impact Assessment.


14   (21416) 9871/00; see HC 23-xxvi (1999-2000), paragraph 9 (26 July 2000). Back

15   (22451) 9317/01; see HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 53 (18 July 2001). Back

16   (23208) 6118/02; see HC 152-xxiii (2001-02), paragraph 22 (10 April 2002). Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 25 July 2002