The vehicles of our future

Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship.

Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship.

Out of the fourteen altogether topics that the European Union policies and rules cover, the huge automotive sector is affected directly or indirectly by nine of them. Let’s count: Business, Economy-finance-competition, Employment, Energy and natural resources, Environment-consumers-health, External relations and foreign affairs, Regions and local development, Sciences and technology, Transport and travel. The car industry and markets are so extended and complex, that the slightest change of rules or the introduction of new laws, affect the entire European society in its capacities of motor vehicle producer and user. In certain cases even policies set to regulate Agriculture- fisheries and food, have implications on the automotive industry and the relevant sectors.

No wonder then why whenever the EU does anything that even remotely touches the automotive sector, everybody gets on rooftops and shouts loudly. This is so because our modern societies are completely dependent on cars. Production, trade, use, maintenance and a lot of other activities related to cars consume a good part of everybody’s lives and incomes and provide a livelihood and wealth to many.

As a result, European Union legislation on motor vehicles is quite extended. Only this year (2012) the European Commission has issued nine Regulations and the European Council another two Decisions. Those are legislative items concerning the functioning of European Union’s home market. They contains new rules or amendments of existing laws on crucial items like passenger and pedestrian safety, use and composition of fuels (Commission Regulation (EU) No 630/2012 of 12 July 2012), type-approval of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefore (Commission Regulation (EU) No 523/2012 of 20 June 2012), emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Commission Regulation (EU) No 459/2012).

In view of the importance of the sector the European Commission formulated a comprehensive industrial policy, the CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st century) process, which was initially launched in 2005. The basic idea is that the “EU needs to maintain a world-class car industry, producing the most energy-efficient and safe vehicles globally and providing high-skilled jobs to millions. To make this happen, the European Commission tabled on 8 November 2012 the CARS 2020 Action Plan, aimed at reinforcing this industry’s competitiveness and sustainability heading towards 2020”.

As the Commission puts it, “At the end of 2010, the Commission decided to re-launch the CARS 21 High Level Group, which was originally set-up in 2005, as a follow-up of the Commission Communication “European strategy on clean and energy-efficient vehicles”, adopted on 28 April 2010. The objective of the Group was to make policy recommendations to support the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the European automotive industry”.

Given the huge role of this industrial activity the Group included seven Commissioners, nine Member State representatives, and a broad and balanced group of stakeholders (including industry representatives and NGOs), and adopted its Final Report on 6 June 2012.

This Report presents the Group’s consensual view on the strategic vision for the automotive sector in 2020 and sets out specific recommendations on a number of relevant policy areas (see the report in this address: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/automotive/files/cars-21-final-report-2012_en.pdf)

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