February 8, 2007

European Commission unveils strategy for long-term European car industry viability

Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission (EC) has agreed upon a comprehensive strategy for the European car industry, aimed at keeping auto manufacturing viable on a long-term basis and at prices affordable to consumers. The strategy encompasses a variety of areas, including reduction of administrative burdens, environmental sustainability, road safety, trade and overseas markets, and research.

The Commission says that the automotive industry in Europe “is currently characterized by cut-throat price competition, high raw material and energy prices, a strong emphasis on cost management and a restructuring of production processes.” In line with its policy to improve the quality of lawmaking, and to face the challenges of global competition, the Commission asked the High Level Group CARS 21 in 2004 to advise on future policy. The group comprises stakeholders including consumer and environmental organizations.

Proposals under the new plan include:

  • Reduction of administrative burdens: The Commission will propose replacing 38 EC directives with corresponding global regulations, including tires, safety glass, fog lamps and seatbelts, so that the industry can rely on one single text, valid throughout the world.
  • Road safety: The Commission believes an effective road safety strategy should be based on a combination of improvement in vehicle technology, road infrastructure, driver behaviour and enforcement. A total of eleven future actions are proposed, including the mandatory requirement of electronic stability control, seat belt reminders and daytime running lights for new vehicles.
  • Trade: The Commission proposes to assess the potential of using bilateral trade agreements, particularly in the Asian region, to improve market access and reinforce the need to enforce intellectual property rights globally.

  • Research and development: Clean and renewable fuels and vehicles, and intelligent vehicles and roads have been identified as core research priorities.

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