EC authorises German aid to heavy vehicles
Commission authorises German scheme to promote environmentally friendly heavy vehicles
Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission has decided 2007-01-24 not to raise any objections to a German State aid scheme that aims to help transport operators acquire heavy vehicles with better emission performance. The scheme will promote positive environmental effects by reducing harmful road traffic emissions. This is especially important for congested urban areas, which have difficulties meeting European anti-pollution requirements.
Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-president in charge of transport, said "It is an essential aim of the European transport policy to support the development of cleaner and environmentally friendly road transport".
The new measures consist of investment grants or interest allowances granted to transport operators investing in lorries that comply with stricter environmental standards than those already in force. The scheme will therefore allow operators to purchase lorries whose initial cost is higher than that of more polluting vehicles. It has been approved for six years, with an annual budget of €100 million.
Although the payment will provide the operators of heavy vehicles with an economic advantage, the Commission has found that the proposed aid scheme is in line with Community rules as it covers spending for environmental protection within allowed ceilings.
As part of its Energy Policy for Europe, the Commission is committed to encouraging the production and use of vehicles with enhanced environmental performance in order to promote sustainable mobility in the European Union, especially by reducing CO2 emissions caused by transport. The scheme contributes to the creation of a market for enhanced environmentally friendly heavy vehicles – similar measures have already been enforced in the Netherlands and Denmark.
Today, transport produces almost one third of CO2 emissions – the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change – and emissions are expected to grow significantly. The use of vehicles that respect stricter emission limits is one of the most efficient ways of reducing the harmful environmental effects of transport, particularly in congested urban areas.
 Guidelines for the Promotion of enhanced environmentally friendly vehicles.
The above-mentioned scheme stimulates the acquisition of heavy vehicles with engines corresponding to EURO 5 standards or stricter emission limits – according to the limit emission values set in Directive 1999/96/EC. The purchase of EURO 5 heavy vehicles will, uner some conditions, be subsidised until 30 September 2008. The grants for the acquisition of enhanced environmental friendly heavy vehicles, whose engines correspond to stricter emission limits than EURO 5, is approved for a period of 6 years.
 Community guidelines on State aid for environmental protection, OJ C 037, 3 March 2001, page 3-15.
 The recently adopted Communication from the Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament "An Energy Policy for Europe" (COM(2007) 1 final, 10.01.2007) points out that current energy and transport policies would mean EU CO2 emissions would increase by around 5% by 2030.
 Environmental Investment Tax Deduction scheme for Euro 5 engines in Netherlands (State aid case No N 643/05, Decision of the European Commission of 24 January 2006, currently not published in the OJ).
 Scheme for retrofitting of particulate filters on heavy duty vehicles in Denmark (State aid case No N 90/04, Decision of the (State aid case No N 90/04, Decision of the European Commission of 20 July 2006, OJ C 235, 23 September 2005, page 3 – 4).