Summary: European Union Environment Ministers will gather in Brussels on December 21 for their last Council session under the Presidency of Austria's Martin Bartenstein. Initially scheduled for December 7-8, the meeting was postponed to provide the European Parliament with an opportunity to push through Opinions in first reading on a series of proposals at its December 14-18 plenary session. Ministers should therefore be able to adopt common positions on a series of draft Directives linked to air pollution: CO2 emissions from new passenger cars, ecological labelling of cars, polluting emissions from lorries and ozone-depleting substances.

This last meeting of the Environment Council for 1998 will begin on the evening of December 20 with a working dinner, during which Ministers will discuss the results of the Buenos Aires Conference on climate change and adopt their common position on the proposal for a Regulation on ozone-depleting substances (COM(98)398), which provides for the phasing out of methyl bromide and HCFCs. As a direct consequence of the wide-ranging public debate at their last meeting (on October 6), the Ministers' discussions on December 21 on the proposal for a Directive on informing consumers of the comparative fuel efficiency of new passenger cars (fuel economy-labelling of cars - COM(98)489) and the proposal for a Council Decision on the monitoring of CO2 emissions from new passenger cars should lead to the adoption of common positions. Parliament's Opinions on these two dossiers should be available in time. The Commission will inform Minister of progress in negotiations with non-European motor manufacturers on the conclusion of an Agreement on reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars similar to that concluded with European car makers. The European Automobile Manfacturers' Association has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars to 140 g/km by 2008. Ministers should adopt a set of Conclusions on this point. The Council should also adopt its common position on the proposal for a Directive on limiting polluting gas and particulate emissions from the diesel engines of heavy goods vehicles, the fourth facet of the Auto-Oil air quality programme. The proposal seeks to bring in binding emission ceilings applicable to heavy goods vehicles from 2000 in respect of carbon gases, unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, particulates and smoke emissions from...

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