Europe threatens court action over vehicle procurement

18 June 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The European Commission (EC) has requested the UK implement a directive on promoting clean and energy-efficient vehicles.

It warned it would refer the case to the EU Court of Justice if the government did not comply with the rules, which require the public sector to use its purchasing power to reduce emissions.

An EC statement said the directive was also designed to help the government save money in the long run. “Every time they purchase a vehicle for public transport services, [the government] must take into account energy consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions over the whole lifetime of vehicles. Thus, the real costs to be encountered over the lifetime operation of vehicles are anticipated, giving a relative advantage to vehicles that pollute less and consume less energy,” it said.  

The deadline for implementing the directive passed on 4 December 2010, and now the EC has given the UK, Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden two months to comply with the rules.

Directive 2009/33 applies to all purchases of road transport vehicles by public authorities or suppliers carrying out public service obligations.

“Failing to implement this directive appropriately means that public authorities and transport operators in the member states concerned may not be obliged to purchase clean and energy-efficient vehicles. This could slow down improvements in the energy and environmental performance of the road vehicle fleet within the EU,” the EC said.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We will be complying with the directive and will be legislating to this effect in due course.”

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