29 November 2006 | Antony Barton
All vehicles bought by public-sector businesses will soon have to meet environmental criteria if a European Commission (EC) proposal goes ahead.
During a meeting of the European Parliament's environment committee, transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said a proposal for a directive on the procurement of "clean" vehicles would be ready by next summer. He indicated that it would cover all public vehicles but did not specify the CO2 emission standards they would have to meet or when it would come into effect.
The committe had earlier proposed that all vehicles over 3.5 tonnes should meet environmental criteria. But the European Parliament rejected this in June, claiming that European emission standards already covered the broad remit of the proposal and it needed better focus on CO2 emission reductions.
The EC said that while technologies for vehicles that produce fewer harmful emissions are currently more expensive, increased demand for them would enable manufacturers to support their development.
"The aim is to establish a viable market by creating sufficient demand to generate economies of scale," the EC said.
Barrot insisted that the latest proposal might not be mandatory but rather a "non-binding" recommendation. Another possibility would be to incentivise the purchase of cleaner vehicles, but there is, as yet, no indication of how such a scheme would operate, he said.