17 March 2023


During the Environment Council which took place in Brussels on 16 March, EU ministers had the opportunity to provide preliminary comments to the Commission proposal revising the CO2 standards for new heavy-duty vehicles, which was presented last month.

For reference, the Commission proposal extends the scope of the Regulation to nearly all trucks above 5 tonnes, with some exception regarding vocational vehicles, trucks with specific axle configurations or small manufacturers. The emission reduction targets are strengthened in 2030 from -30% to -45% and new targets are set at -65% from 2035 and -90% from 2040 onwards.

The exchanges following the Commission presentation of the proposal revealed two groups of Members States: the first group – composed of at least the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Denmark – welcomed the proposal as a good step towards the decarbonisation of road freight transport, even calling for a stronger targets in order to reach zero emission trucking by 2040-2050. Some of these Member states have already voiced their position in joint non-paper published ahead of the adoption of the proposal, calling for a 100% emission reduction target, a strengthened 2030 target and an extension of the scope.

On the other hand, Italy, Greece, Finland, Estonia and Czechia took the floor during the meeting, asking for a more realistic objective in the decarbonisation of heavy-duty road transport. These Member States showed preference for a more technology-neutral approach, allowing low-carbon and renewable fuels such as biofuels, e-fuels, to be taken into account or at least used for reducing emission from road freight transport. Finland also pointed out that very-heavy long-haul transport would continue to rely on internal combustion engines in the coming years, as their electrification potential is not sufficiently mature to decarbonise this vehicle segment with electric batteries or green hydrogen.

The Swedish Presidency announced that a policy debate will be held at the next Environment Council in June, in order to drive the discussion in the respective technical working groups. This would mean that it does not intend to reach a general approach under its Presidency. The following presidencies, namely Spain or Belgium, will be tasked to find a agreement among Member states on this file.