Euro 7 sets minimum performance requirements for battery durability in electric and hybrid vehicles. However, these are only marginally more demanding than current voluntary commitments from car manufacturers. Photo: © Scharfsinn/

European Parliament approves watered-down Euro 7 rules

By: Emilia Samuelsson

The European Parliament approved a deal on the revised Euro 7 emissions rules for cars, trucks, and buses in March. However, the decision remains controversial, with stakeholders divided on whether it goes too far or not far enough in combating emissions.

The revised text was passed with 297 votes in favour, 190 against, and 37 abstentions, following substantial modifications from its original draft. Lawmakers argued that stricter vehicle emissions standards would increase car prices for consumers and discourage investments necessary for developing electric vehicles.

According to reporting from Euractiv several conservative lawmakers labelled the Commission’s original proposal as “unrealistic”. At the end of 2023, new rules were agreed to tighten pollution standards for cars and trucks, focusing primarily on reducing pollution from brakes and tires.[1]

Under the provisional agreement, exhaust emission limits and test conditions for passenger cars and vans remain unchanged from the current Euro 6 standards. This represents a watering down of the more ambitious requirements originally proposed by the European Commission.

While the EU executive aimed to tighten permissible levels of exhaust pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles, such as nitrogen oxides and particulates, the proposal faced a backlash from industry and conservative politicians.

The parliament managed to secure a concession from member states that exhaust particles will be measured at the level of PN10 rather than PN23, thus including smaller particles. [2]

While passenger cars and vans will not see changes to exhaust emission limits, stricter limits will be applied to trucks and buses, both in laboratory settings (NOx limit of 200 mg/kWh) and in real driving conditions (NOx limit of 260 mg/kWh).

For the first time, the pollution standards will address emissions released during braking, as well as microparticles released from tires – both forms of pollution that will continue to be an issue after the transition to electric mobility. Euro 7 also introduces minimum performance requirements for battery durability in electric and hybrid cars. The battery must maintain 80% health after five years or 100,000 km driven, and 72% health up to eight years or 160,000 km driven. For vans, the figures are revised to 75% after five years or 100,000 km driven, and 67% health up to eight years or 160,000 km driven. [3]

However, these durability requirements are not significantly better than the current performance guarantees voluntarily pledged by car manufacturers, according to T&E Vehicle Emissions and Air Quality Manager Anna Krajinska. “Even those requirements are incredibly weak and, at this point, are unlikely to make much difference at all,” she added.

In the European Union, road transport is the largest contributor to nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, accounting for an average of 39%. This figure rises to 47% in urban areas, where the majority of Europeans reside. Alarmingly, 89% of the EU’s urban population is exposed to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels that exceed the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, road transport is a significant source of other harmful air pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), and carbon monoxide (CO). Each of these pollutants poses serious threats to health and well-being across Europe. [4]

The health impacts of air pollution are severe and widespread. According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Europe each year, with up to 142,000 attributed to NO2 alone [5]. NO2 pollution is linked to a range of serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack), atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, asthma (including new-onset asthma in children), increased susceptibility to respiratory infections, and chronic lung disease. The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates that in 2020, NO2 air pollution was responsible for 175,070 years lived with disability due to type 2 diabetes in 31 European countries. [4]

Meeting WHO guidelines for air quality could prevent 60% of NO2-related mortality in Europe, potentially reducing deaths to less than 180,000 per year. Strong Euro 7 standards could have reduced the detrimental health, social, and well-being impacts of transport-related air pollution from internal combustion engines.

While buses and trucks will face stricter exhaust emissions policies, the current Euro 6 testing regulations for these emissions will remain. These are less stringent than those initially proposed by the commission, states environmental organisation Transport and Environment (T&E) to Euractiv. [6]

“Sadly, we expect there to be very limited, if any, [environmental] benefit,” said T&E Vehicle Emissions and Air Quality Manager Anna Krajinska. “The main reduction in pollution will be from non-exhaust emissions … but the gains there really aren’t enough to outweigh the weakness of the rest of the file.”

Krajinska accused the EU institutions of greenwashing. “It’s really disappointing that politicians really gave into that lobbying and prioritised record carmaker profits at the expense of everyone’s health,” she said.
In a statement, European Respiratory Society (ERS), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and partners express “disappointment” with Euro 7 standards, which “give a green label to vehicles which perform no better than current Euro 6 standards”.The low level of ambition of Euro 7 emissions “undermines the EU’s commitment” to protecting the health of Europeans.[7]

All MEPs from The Left and the majority of MEPs from the Greens and S&D groups voted against the proposal. Nikolaj Villumsen, the lead lawmaker on the file for The Left group, called the file “false marketing” and expressed disappointment that nothing in Euro 7 is substantially different from Euro 6.

“The sad truth is that this agreement will cost European citizens their lives,” Villumsen said during the parliamentary debate ahead of the vote. “In large European cities, people will die because the automotive industry’s interests have been prioritised above those of human lives.”

The Council of the EU adopted the new regulation in mid-april.

1 Euractiv. 26 sep. 2023
2 Euractiv. 18 dec. 2023, Cars spared from tighter exhaust standards under Euro 7 deal,
3 Ibid.
4 ERS/EPHA health impact sheet.
5 European Environment Agency,
6 Olivia Gyapong European Parliament approves relaxed Euro 7 emissions requirements while stakeholders remain divided, 14 mars 2024, found here
7 European Respiratory Society


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