"Policy makers should not lose sight of the fact that Europe and its automobile industry play a leading role in the global challenge to reduce CO2 emissions," stated Ivan Hodac, Secretary General of ACEA.
Today Europe's auto industry delivers vehicles with the highest environmental and safety standards in the world. Furthermore, the existing European CO2 emissions targets for 2015 and those proposed for 2020 are the most stringent worldwide, far more challenging than those in the US, China or Japan.
Unfortunately, sales and jobs in the sector have been declining for over six years. "This year has also got off to a worrying start, as our most recent new car registration figures show that the first quarter of 2013 is the worst first quarter on record," went on Mr Hodac.
"In this difficult economic context - and given the fact that the regulatory pressure in Europe is already far higher than in our major competitor regions - the outcome of the ENVI Committee vote sends a worrying signal for the future of the industry in Europe." The risk is of increased manufacturing costs in Europe, creating a competitive disadvantage for the region. "In effect, the ENVI proposals would jeopardise the industry's ability to retain its technological and environmental lead."
Amongst the issues of particular concern to the auto industry is the setting of long-term targets. "By setting unrealistic and politically-motivated long-term targets without a scientific basis, MEPs have taken a dangerous short-cut," Mr Hodac concluded. "They are also disregarding commitments made to the industry in the Commission's CARS 2020 Action plan regarding 'smarter regulation' based on sound impact assessments."
ACEA also calls for more effective 'super-credits', which are incentives for investing in innovative clean technologies. Such incentive schemes are being used far more strongly in other world regions, such as USA, China and Japan. "Again, why should Europe operate in a vacuum?" questioned Hodac.
ACEA urges member states and the European Parliament as a whole to adopt a more balanced and realistic approach to this issue which has huge implications for one of Europe's most strategically important industries.