By Lawrence Speer, Automotive news Europe
Paris -- European countries want negotiations on a tough new CO2 emissions regime for Europe's new-car fleet to be completed by year-end.
Heads of state from the 27 European Union countries agreed during a mid-March summit to finalize the new emissions regime during France's six-month European Union presidency, which begins July 1.
The Brussels-based European Commission and leaders of the European Parliament have accepted the new timetable, marking a rare consensus in what will be difficult negotiations.
" The political will is there, so one can assume that by the end of the year there will be some sort of compromise," said European Parliament spokesman Piotr Zalewski.
" But no one will be able to tell you today what the content of the compromise will be," Zalewski said.
Much of the pending battle will be fought in the Parliament, where pro-auto industry politicians have expressed strong reservations over the Commission's proposal to cut CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 120 grams per kilometer by 2012.
The European Parliament has previously supported automaker demands to move the deadline to 2015. It has also expressed concern over the Commission's plan to impose heavy fines on automakers that miss CO2 targets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been sparring over implementation of the CO2 regime for months.
Merkel is defending German carmakers, who complain that they will be hit harder by the proposal than their French and Italian counterparts.
Automakers such as Germany's Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen sell more high CO2-emitting luxury cars than French and Italian carmakers Renault, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat, whose fleets have lower average CO2 emissions.
Sarkozy argues that the EU must enact strict standards if it hopes to play a leading role in the continuing global climate negotiations.
The European Parliament has appointed Italian Socialist Euro MEP Guido Sacconi to draft a report on the planned CO2 emissions regime.
Sacconi will hold public meetings in the coming weeks, before presenting his report, and potential amendments, to the parliamentary environment committee later this spring.
The environment committee is expected to vote on the report just before or immediately after its summer recess, with a final text before Parliament this autumn.
Legislation approved by Parliament will then go for final approval before the European Council of Ministers, which is comprised of all of the EU's national heads of state and government
From Automotive News Europe (A Crain publication)