The News Sheet of the European Federation for Transport and
Environment (T&E) No 63, November 1997
Brussels adopts daughter, but how strong is she?
The European Commission has set out maximum permitted levels
for four pollutants in Europe's villages, towns and cities to
guarantee reasonable air quality.
The proposals are the first concrete follow-up from last
year's framework directive on ambient air quality (96/62/EC).
That defined the basic principles for a joint strategy to
guarantee a level of air quality across the EU which respects
human health and environmental well-being - a series of
"daughter directives" setting air quality standards for a
number of pollutants was planned to follow, and last month's
proposal covers the first four.
The draft targets - covering sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen
oxides (NOx), suspended particulates (PM10), and lead (Pb) -
are based on new guidelines from the World Health
Organisation. In the past, T&E and other organisations have
criticised overreliance on WHO limits as they can cover human
health but not necessarily environmental well-being, but this
daughter directive includes environmental limit values for
rural areas as well as for towns and cities.
In a joint statement, T&E and the European Environmental
Bureau (EEB) generally welcomed the proposed targets. In
particular they praised the participation of a wide selection
of interested parties in the working groups which drew up the
targets, and said the transparency of the approach was a major
However, the two organisations criticised the proposed
permitted levels for PM10. Annette Hauer of the EEB said:
"Ironically, the pollutant for which the WHO could not
determine a safe exposure level is precisely the one where the
Commission has watered down the expert working group's
The draft directive foresees an annual average of no more than
50mg/m3 by 2005, falling to 20mg/m3 by 2010. T&E and the EEB
wanted 20mg/m3 by 2005, and say the five-year delay could
cause an additional 50,000 unnecessary deaths from particulate
The next daughter directive, due in April, will cover ozone
and benzene, with carbon monoxide to be covered in a third
proposal expected in June. Heavy metals such as cadmium,
nickel, mercury and arsenic, plus polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons will be covered in a proposal due out in 1999.
The exact figures for SO2, NOx, PM10 and Pb available from the
Clean up cars or accept our rules - Bjerregaard
Europe's car manufacturers have been given a warning by the EC
environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard that if they do not
agree on ways of adequately reducting carbon dioxide emissions
from cars they will have mandatory standards imposed on them.
Speaking at last month's Council of environment ministers,
Bjerregaard said she was disappointed with the proposals for
CO2 reduction put forward by the European car manufacturers'
association ACEA. She said member states cannot agree on what
each manufacturer should contribute to her overall target of
no more than 120g/km by 2005.
She added: "If an agreement fails and we decide to move
towards limit values - as the European Parliament has already
suggested - the target-sharing will no longer be decided by
industry itself but for the industry in the EU's legislative
Bjerregaard was supported by the Austrian delegation, which
said consideration should be given to introducing a binding
Community directive imposing lower fuel consumption for new
See Kyoto, page 2
T&E counters duty-free lobby at 'last desperate attempt'
T&E last month took part in a European Parliament hearing on
the proposed end to duty-free sales for people journeying
within the EU.
T&E director Gijs Kuneman stressed the Federation's view that
duty-free sales are part of the large hidden subsidy to
aviation (the other being the tax exemptions on tickets and
kerosene) and supported the Commission's intention to end
internal duty-free sales by mid-1999.
Kuneman said: "The hearing was in many ways a last desperate
attempt by those business groups with a direct commercial
interest in maintaining duty-free sales. The EP has no formal
competence in these matters, and if the commissioner Mario
Monti is to be believed, all opposition to the end of duty-
free sales is a waste of time, effort and money."
See News Digest, page 4
What do youthink of Bulletin?
T&E has undertaken a survey of reader attitudes towards its
news sheet. Read all about it on page 3.
European bubble surfaces in final Kyoto discussions
The concept of a "European bubble" has emerged in final
negotiations on the position the EU will take to next month's
ministerial conference on climate change in Kyoto, Japan.
Environment ministers last month reaffirmed the EU's
willingness to commit to a target of reducing 1990 levels of
the main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous
oxide) by 7.5% by 2005 and 15% by 2010, but only if the
world's other industrialised nations do the same.
As a way of sharing the load among the EU's member states and
across the various industrial sectors which emit greenhouse
gases, ministers discussed the possibility that the EU's
commitment should apply to the whole of the EU as an average.
In other words, some countries and sectors could continue to
emit their current level of greenhouse gases (or in theory
increase it) as long as other countries and sectors reduced
their emissions by more than the target figure, so the EU as a
unit (or "bubble") meets the target.
Opposition to this has come from inside and outside Europe.
The Commission and France are worried that the collective
agreement could become a "bubble of complacency", with some
countries or sectors carrying on as normal and blaming others
for failure to meet the target. And there is concern from
America that the bubble concept could lead to some industries
enjoying an unfair competitive advantage.
The environment ministers said they would have no objection to
other bubbles being formed among geographically close
Following last month's environment Council, Europe is likely
to have the most progressive stance at Kyoto. It is calling
for legally binding targets, and it says its recommendation of
15% by 2010 is economically and technically feasible, as long
as the rest of the world takes on the same commitment.
There is growing European anger at what is seen as an
unwillingness to grasp the urgency of the problem in Japan and
the USA. Japan says the highest target it can set is CO2 5%
down from 1990 levels by 2012. America has not made any offer
but says it is willing to agree to "realistic and binding
target figures" in Kyoto, but it frequently uses the word
"realistic" to reject the more progressive recommendations.
The EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard described the
Japanese proposal as "inadequate and not ambitious enough".
She added: "The entire world is watching Japan and expects it
to demonstrate leadership at this conference it is hosting."
Presure grows for accurate air travel prices
The pressure on the aviation industry to accept more accurate
prices for air travel is growing.
Friends of the Earth groups in 16 countries across Europe are
organising demonstrations on 5 and 6 December as part of a
broader campaign "The Right Price for Air Travel".
These demonstrations follow several important recent
developments. In particular, Sweden's civil aviation
administration has announced it is following Zurich's lead in
introducing emissions-based aircraft charges (see last month's
Bulletin) and Germany has committed itself to working towards
ending the tax exemption for kerosene (aircraft fuel).
At a joint news conference, Germany's environment and
transport ministers Angela Merkel and Matthias Wissmann
launched a "Concept for Air Transport and the Environment"
aimed at reducing the impact of aviation on the environment.
The concept foresees various measures:
- making the current limit values for aeroengine emissions
- improving kerosene quality
- improving kerosene consumption
- making the current noise limit values stricter
- introducing noise- and emissions-based landing charges, and
ending the tax exemption for kerosene.
Michaela Mohrhard of T&E's German member VCD said: "There's a
lot to be welcomed in this concept, much of it is what we've
been calling for, which shows we're making progress. But
there is no mention of reducing demand for air travel, and we
need to see action rather than statements of intent if this
concept is to mean anything."
EU transport ministers last month discussed the Commission's
framework proposal for airport fees, which has the potential
to dictate member states' flexibility in internalising the
external costs of air transport. One of the things to emerge
was that a majority of member states favour internalisation
through airport fees, and the Committee of Permanent
Representatives (Coreper) has been instructed to present
proposals for this.
Dutch environmental groups have scored a partial victory in
their attempt to force airlines using Amsterdam Schipol
airport to keep noise levels down. Although they lost their
legal challenge to force the airlines to stick to new maximum
noise guarantees, the judge said the airlines had to respect
the new limits from the start of next year.
The European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) is
currently seeking a
for a full-time position to start on 1 January 1998 based at
T&E's office in Brussels. The Director will be responsible
for the practical and financial management of the T&E
secretariat and for political lobbying of and representations
to the European institutions. The successful candidate will
have professional experience in a relevant field, will be well
organised and able to work independently, and have a clear
commitment to environmental protection. (S)he will speak
fluent English with a fair knowledge of French and preferably
one or more other European languages. For a more detailed job
description, contact T&E, Bd de Waterloo 34, 1000 Brussels,
Belgium, or fax +32 2 502 9908.
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: 25 NOVEMBER
What's cooking in the kitchen of the British presidency?
By Malcolm Fergusson
On 1 January Britain's new Labour government will take up the
presidency of the EU. It will be followed by Austria, Germany
and Finland, so a positive initiative on transport stands a
good chance of being taken forward by countries with a strong
commitment to environmental protection.
Before it was elected to government in May, Labour promised
to "place the environment at the heart of policy-making", and
clearly the transport sector is a major target for this
approach. The new government has put transport and
environment together into a single "super-ministry" headed by
the deputy prime minister John Prescott. For the presidency,
it has decided to hold both formal and informal joint sessions
of the Transport and Environment Councils - itself an
unprecedented move - but it is as yet far from clear what
measures are to be pursued.
Thus we have a new cook in the kitchen, and the table is laid
out, but what will be on the menu?
Taking Auto-Oil as our hors d'oeuvre, the UK government
attaches great importance to stricter standards, not least
because they are needed to meet its own air quality targets
for 2005, so we can expect it to take a positive role.
The main course, however, may well be climate change. The
Commission's efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from cars have
met with limited cooperation from the motor industry, such
that a monitoring system for corporate average emissions and
rather modest improvements in efficiency are all that is on
the table so far. Yet with the UK committed to a 20%
reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010, it needs to tackle
transport, so the dish may be more tasty than these bland
offerings to date.
The British government has expressed an interest in taxing
aviation fuel, and after leading the way in raising motor fuel
taxes, it might be willing to push hard for an EU initiative
on kerosene. The key question is whether it is willing to
serve up a European dish rather than wait for the promise of
truly international cuisine sometime in the future.
A possible dessert is renewal of the Structural and Cohesion
Funds from 1999, if the Commission's paper is ready before
next summer. These have important implications for transport
infrastructure funding, though there will have to be some
swift work in the kitchen if the renewal is to serve up a
genuine improvement in environmental protection.
There is clearly great potential in the British presidency.
Ultimately its greatest achievement could be if it can manage
to find expression at Community level for some of the creative
initiatives which are making such a difference at local and
national level, in the UK and elsewhere.
The British do not enjoy a high reputation for cooking, and
the UK transport cafe is the worst of all our eating places.
Successive UK governments have, however, been trying some new
recipes in recent years, and even looking to the mainland for
inspiration. It may still be premature to wish the dinner
guests bon appetit, but we should certainly be wishing the
hosts bon courage.
Bulletin - some criticism but general approval
[pie chart, with caption: How do you judge the clarity of the
aritcles in Bulletin?]
T&E has undertaken a survey into what readers think of the T&E
Bulletin, which has now existed for more than six years. And
the results have been very encouraging (see graphics below and
on page 1).
The majority of replies indicate that the format is suitable
and the quality good. In particular, the commentaries appear
to be very well appreciated, though some readers were a little
critical of the News Digest page.
The main criticisms concerned the layout. Some people felt
there could be more pictures, while others said Bulletin was
too "text heavy". These are legitimate criticisms, and we
always try to have one picture or graphic on the front page,
so it does not look too heavy, plus a picture with the main
commentary so people can identify a little with the personal
views of the writer.
But to have more pictures would take up space which could
otherwise be used to report important information. It is
sometimes very difficult to condense a busy month (or two
months) of activity into four pages, especially in 10-point
type which is a size bigger than most newspapers use.
We could of course make Bulletin more than four pages, but we
have resisted this temptation because we get a lot of positive
feedback saying it is attractive because it is short.
We are always re-evaluating how Bulletin can develop, but we
take the results of our survey as a signal that we are on the
right track in general. It will never win any design awards,
but it was never intended to - it was intended to keep people
informed about the most important developments events and
ideas, and readers can always ask for more information on a
subject if they need it.
Editor, T&E Bulletin
The road lobby's guide to protecting the environment
A new action plan entitled "Driving Towards Sustainable
Development" has been launched - by the International Road
Transport Union (IRU).
The document is the road industry's contribution to the debate
on the environmental impact of transport, but while it seeks
to protect the environment, but it clearly puts the interests
of the road haulage industry first.
Many of the traditional road lobby arguments are there,
including a belief that improving road infrastructure will be
good for the environment in solving capacity problems,
reducing congestion and eliminating bottlenecks.
It alkso rejects tolls, saying they are an ineffective measure
for meeting environmetnal protection goals. "Taxing road
transport will not encourage use of other modes," it says.
Yet T&E's director Gijs Kuneman says the report should be at
least partly welcomed. "There are obviously a lot of things
we would object to in this document," he said, "but it is also
a sign that the road industry is trying to act responsibly in
the debate on road transport's impact on the environment, and
we should welcome their good intentions."
AUTO-OIL DIRECTIVES MOVE TO EP
EU environment ministers have approved the latest versions of
two crucial Auto-Oil draft directives: the ones concerning
emissions from cars and the quality of petrol and diesel. The
fuel quality directive will set new limit values for sulphur,
benzene aromatic compounds and lead, which are due to come
into effect on 1 January 2000. The emissions directive
includes monitoring polluting emissions via on-board
diagnostics and new vehicle testing procedures. The draft
directives now go to the EP for a second reading.
Four rail federations have joined forces to promote the
railways in a joint research and development programme. The
four (UIC, CER, UITP and UNIFE) want to find ways for Europe's
railways to improve their performance and competitiveness and
use fewer resources. The initiative will look for ways to
develop efficient multi-modal options for passengers and
freight, and also to harmonise train and track designs and
components to reduce the lifetime costs of rail equipment and
ILLEGAL MOTOR AID
The Commission has warned Sweden that certain forms of state
aid for the country's motor manufacturing sector will be
illegal from 1 January. Sweden wants to keep a number of
schemes under which the motor industries pay reduced taxes, in
the hope that the money saved can generate employment. Yet
these schemes contravene a new "aid code" for the automotive
sector which Brussels will enforce from the start of next
'GREEN' TAXES TO COVER ALL ENERGY
EU environment ministers have agreed that any framework for
reflecting environmental considerations in tax systems must
cover all energy products. Yet this could still allow for
favourable treatment for the sources of energy which do least
damage to the environment, notable renewable sources and
combined heat and power production. No progress is expected
until after another meeting of environment and finance
ministers due for the spring.
MOTORWAY TAX REDUCTION ILLEGAL
The EC has begun legal proceedings against Spain after the
Madrid government reduced VAT charged on motorway tolls from
16% to 7%. The taxation commissioner Mario Monti says the
action does not comply with the sixth VAT directive, which
lists the areas where reduced rates of VAT can be applied.
Spain is the sixth member state to be prosecuted under the
sixth VAT directive in recent months.
EC WORKING ON NEW RAIL AND ROAD PLANS
The Commission is planning to publish proposals on promoting
the rail sector and clarifying public service obligations in
rail and road transport. The intended proposals appear in the
draft EU workplan for 1998, which was published last month.
COWBOYS OFF THE ROADS
EU transport ministers last month moved a step closer to
agreeing a framework for regulating the road haulage industry.
At their October Council, they agreed on a common position on
access to the road haulage profession, aimed at eliminating
"cowboy" operators from Europe's roads. At the same meeting,
transport commissioner Neil Kinnock said he would soon be
presenting proposals to coordinate lorry bans, which currently
operate in seven of the 15 member states.
WORKERS AGAINST END TO DUTY-FREE
The Federation of Transport Workers in the EU (FST) has
protested against the proposed abolition of duty-free sales.
It is angry at a statement from the Commission saying
abolition will have only a "negligible" effect on employment.
It issued its own statement saying tens of thousands of jobs
would be lost at a time when the Commission was looking for
ways of creating employment.
New Publications and Events
De-coupling economic develoment and freight for reducing
negative impact, by Andras Pastowski, Wuppertal Institute for
climate, environment and energy, fax: +49 202 249 2108.
Improving energy efficiency and reducing gas emissions in
urban transport, report of a car-free cities seminal, by
Commission DG XVII, from EU publications office.
T&E Bulletin is the official news shet of the European
Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E). It appears 10
times a year and is free to members of the Federation.
T&E has 29 members registered in 1997 in a total of 20
countries. It lobbies for an environmentally sound approach
to European transport issues.
The next issue will appear in mid-December. The deadline for
contributions to reach either the T&E secretariat or the
editor is Friday 5 December.
T&E Secretariat: Bd de Waterloo 34, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium.
Tel: +32 2 502 9909; fax: +32 2 502 9908; e-mail:
Editor of Bulletin: Chris Bowers, tel & fax: +44 1883 624917;
Back to Eberhard Blocher's Homepage