Europe proposes new emissions rules

02 October 2014

Harmonised emissions rules for the European Union (EU) and more stringent emission limit values for non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) have been proposed by the European Commission.

The Commission proposal is designed to cut emissions of major air pollutants from NRMM and cut the complexity of the legal framework for the sector.

Eric Lepine, president of CECE, the Committee for European Construction Equipment, and managing director of Caterpillar France, said, “We welcome that highly-essential requirements are met, such as a predictable introduction pace and emission limits that acknowledge the vast technological progress made in the industry.

“But the proposal certainly needs further studying and refining, in particular with regard to further provisions for replacement engines and the concerns of niche equipment manufacturers.”

The Commission said that NRMM covered a very wide variety of machinery from small gardening and handheld equipment, through construction and agricultural machinery to railcars, locomotives and inland waterway vessels.

The new Regulation, proposed on 25 September, would replace a patchwork of 28 national laws. The EC added that it would also repeal “an extremely complex directive” comprising 15 annexes and amended eight times since it was adopted in 1997.

It said that besides improving air quality throughout the EU, the new proposal provided the NRMM sector with “a predictable and stable regulatory framework that is fit for the future”. It said, “A clear focus in this context was, therefore, put on international alignment of technical requirements, particularly with a view to bringing those of the EU and the US closer together”.

These measures are designed to ensure a level playing field for European industry and avoid unfair competition from low-cost imports of non-regulated machinery. Beyond that, the proposal was said to be expected to alleviate the pressure on individual Member States for additional regulatory action at national level that the Commission said would eventually hamper the internal market.

Transparency

Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said that by simplifying the existing legislation, improving transparency and lightening the administrative burden, the latest proposal contributed to the competitiveness of European industry.

“We aim to help non-road mobile machinery suppliers, a key industrial sector, to reap the full benefits of the internal market and to help EU enterprises to be more successful abroad.”

He added, “At the same time, our proposal will lead to a very significant reduction of air pollution emissions and hence protect the health of European citizens.”

He said it was good for business and good for the environment.

The Commission said a technical review carried out some time ago identified a number of substantial shortcomings of the existing Directive, confirming the need for a fundamental review. It added that these findings were also widely echoed by the NRMM stakeholder community.

The work on the new proposal was based on three main topics – the introduction of new emission limits reflecting technological progress and EU policies in the on-road sector, with a view to achieving EU air quality targets; the extension of scope, with a view to improving market harmonisation (EU and international) and minimising the risk of market distortions; and the introduction of measures for simplifying administrative procedures and improving enforcement, including conditions for better market surveillance.

The Commission said that NRMM engines accounted for roughly 15% of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 5% of the particulate matter (PM) emissions in the EU. It also found that studies indicated that their relative contribution to the total NOx emissions could become bigger over time, should efforts and technical progress in the on-road sector not be carried over to NRMM.

With this in mind, the Commission has proposed more stringent emission limits for the placing on the market of new engines installed in off-highway machinery.

The new Regulation addresses NOx, hydro-carbons (HC), carbon-monoxide (CO) and PM. For the first time in the NRMM sector, a limit is set on particle numbers (PN) complementing the limit on particle mass (PM). The Commission said that in this way, emissions of so-called ultrafine particles would also be limited, taking up the most recent conclusive evidence on their adverse health effects.

Key elements

CECE said the key elements of the regulation for the sector were the introductory dates of 2019 to 2020; limit values that would reduce emissions to extremely low levels; and an unprecedented rate of introduction across the entire power range of equipment, irrespective of combustion cycle and fuel.

Lepine emphasised that the construction equipment industry was working hard to provide its customers with machines offering the highest productivity and lowest environmental impact.

However, he pointed out that delivering the next generation of machines to the market in time would remain a complex challenge.

“Product cycles are long and product diversity is huge, putting a tremendous strain on development time,” he said. “The sector calls on the European Parliament and Council to facilitate a swift reading of the proposal, in order to secure sufficient lead-time ahead of the legislation entering into force.”

Lepine said that the European construction equipment manufacturers – many of them niche producers or SMEs – already produced the cleanest and safest machinery in the world.

“They need economy of scale to stay competitive in a global environment and maintain profitable manufacturing sites in Europe.

“The global market for highly-regulated products is in comparative terms quite small. Europe cannot afford to deviate too much from requirements in other ambitious nations in this field”, he said.

“We urge the EU to maintain alignment in standards and limits with other regions, notably with the US, and actively promote worldwide alignment.”

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