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 April 28, 2010
EU unveils green car action plan

 Commission proposes wide-ranging new rules designed to promote adoption of clean vehicles and tackle manufacturers' misleading green claims

The European Commission has today unveiled a wide-ranging strategy designed to establish the European car industry as a leading player in the global green vehicle market, and ensure that electric vehicles can be recharged right across the continent.

EU leaders in Brussels said the "concrete and ambitious" action plan would deliver many new initiatives designed to promote adoption of clean and fuel-efficient vehicles and accelerate the development of new low-carbon vehicle technologies.

"In 2010, the automotive industry enters into a defining phase for its future success," said European Commission vice president Antonio Tajani, who leads industry and entrepreneurship. "Including all types of vehicles in the strategy will ensure that this parallel approach will strike the right balance between securing the future competitiveness of our car manufacturing industry without compromising our long-term goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases and other pollutants."

The strategy includes an eight-point action plan which pledges to maintain the existing regulatory framework to reduce vehicle emissions, support research and innovation in green tech and to increase European market share in the global vehicle market.

The strategy also details plans to encourage the use of electric vehicles across Europe, including proposals to develop common standards for electric cars so they can be charged anywhere in the EU.

In addition, the action plan proposes detailed new rules governing how car manufacturers market the "green additionality" of their vehicles, promises a new strategy to target emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, simplify the rules governing clean vehicle research grants, and undertake a study to establish the full life cycle emissions of different vehicle types, such as electric cars, hybrids and conventional vehicles.

The action plan follows in the wake of a report published yesterday by the European Environment Agency (EEA), which called on EU leaders to develop a clearer vision and firm policies for Europe's transport system.

The annual report, entitled Towards a resource-efficient transport system (TERM), claims that the European transport system is struggling to curb carbon emissions, despite advances in new technology, because of a rise in the distances people and goods are traveling.

"Today, we can see that the extensive investment in transport infrastructure [during the past 10 years] has enabled us to travel further to meet our daily needs, but has not led to a decrease in the amount of time that we are exposed to noise, congestion and air pollution," explained EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade. "In the future we will need to focus not only on the mode of transport, but also the reasons why people choose to travel, because ultimately mobility is inextricably linked to our quality of life."