Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Eighth Report





COM(00) 840

Draft Council Directive amending Directive 97/68/EC on emissions of gaseous and particulate pollutants from internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery.

Legal base:

Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting




Basis of consideration:

Fourth SEM of 22 July 2002

Previous Committee Report:

HC 28-vi (2000-01), paragraph 6 (14 February 2001), HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 16 (17 October 2001) and HC 152-xii (2001-02), paragraph 12 (16 January 2002)

To be discussed in Council:


Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Cleared (decision reported on 17 October 2001)



    1. In recent years, the Community has taken a number of measures to combat the adverse effects of emissions of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter, including mandatory limits for emissions from compression ignition (diesel) engines in non-road machinery with a power output between 18 kW and 560 kW. However, as a result of other initiatives, emissions from road vehicles are set to decrease by about 50% by 2010, thereby increasing the relative importance of those from non-road machinery, particularly as regards small petrol-driven engines which are an important source of two of the main ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons).
    2. The Commission therefore proposed in December 2000 that emission limits for nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons should be extended to cover spark ignition (petrol) engines of less than 19 kW. The proposal also contained two features — averaging[37] and banking[38] — found in the corresponding US legislation, but which are novel so far as the Community is concerned.
    3. .

    4. On the basis of information supplied by the Government (including a Regulatory Impact Assessment), we cleared the proposal on 17 October 2001, but recalled that the Government had said earlier that it would be looking further at the implications of the proposed averaging and banking arrangements. We therefore said that we would be glad to know what further light may have been shed on this.
    5. In a Second Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 7 January 2002, the Minister of State at the then Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr John Spellar) said that, despite UK support for the banking and averaging scheme, both the Council and the European Parliament had voted for its deletion, thus requiring all models of engine to meet emission limits. Since this could pose problems for the use of hand-held two-stroke engines, the UK had argued that alternative flexibilities are needed, and he said that both the Council's Common Position and the European Parliament's amendments had sought to address this — the former by requiring the Commission to review the ability of hand-held machines to comply with the limits (and to set derogations of up to five years where appropriate), and the latter by exempting a range of such machines from the measure entirely. Since the manufacturers had suggested that a five-year derogation would be sufficient to allow them to develop alternative technologies to allow two-stroke engines to meet the emission limits, the Minister commented that the Parliament's amendments went further than was necessary, whilst the Common Position, although offering the potential to grant the derogations needed by the industry, did not guarantee these.
    6. In our Report of 16 January 2002, we noted the position, but commented that the Minister had given no indication of whether, or how, he saw the situation being resolved. We therefore asked to be kept informed of any further developments in good time.

          Fourth Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 22 July 2002

    8. We received a Third Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 12 June 2002 from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) indicating that the Parliament's second reading was likely to take place early in July, and we have since received from him a Fourth Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 22 July dealing with the amendments adopted by the Parliament. He says that these propose two main changes. First, the Council's Common Position would have applied to constant speed engines with immediate effect, subject to compliance by generator set engines by 2007: the Parliament's amendments would set an implementation date of 2007 for all constant speed engines. Secondly, as regards hand-held engines, there would be a guaranteed three year derogation, coupled with the proviso that the Commission should review the case for extending this to five years where appropriate (with the possibility of a further derogation in exceptional circumstances). The Minister comments that this will provide additional certainty to industry in terms of the lead time available to develop compliant products.
    9.     Conclusion

    10. We are grateful to the Minister for this further information, which we are drawing to the attention of the House.


37   This allows an engine manufacturer to certify engines with emissions levels above those laid down, provided the emissions level of its total annual production meets the required standard. Back

38   This allows a manufacturer achieving an average better than the standard in one year a "credit" which may be subtracted from the following year's emissions average. Back

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Prepared 11 November 2002