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Vehicle noise vote could be close

By Dave Keating  -  13.12.2012 / 17:05 CET
Expected low attendance could mean the outcome is uncertain.
A vote by the European Parliament's environment committee on a Commission proposal to reduce vehicle noise limits will take place on Tuesday (18 December), after being delayed because of allegations of industry influence.
But expected low attendance at the meeting means the outcome is uncertain.

Two alternative compromise amendments were agreed this morning (13 December) by shadow rapporteurs meeting in Strasbourg. The first, by the EPP and ECR groups, would offer much more generous allowances for high performance cars including sports cars. The second by the S&D, ALDE and Green groups maintains the Commission's proposal but puts in more stringent limits for some categories.

The EPP/ECR compromise amendments are close to that put forward by Czech centre-right MEP Miroslav Ouzký in September. Ouzký became the centre of controversy when it was discovered that a Porsche advisor was listed in the ‘author' field of his submission. Porsche would benefit from the more generous provisions in the amendment for high performance cars. Ouzký, in turn, accused the campaign group T&E, which discovered the authorship, of trying to blackmail him.

The original vote planned for September had to be delayed because of the controversy, and has since faced further delays four times. Ouzký has since stepped back from work on the file, according to sources involved in the discussions, but has not been officially removed as shadow rapporteur.

Though the compromise by Socialists, Liberals and Greens would usually outnumber the centre-right compromise, Tuesday's result will be unpredictable because many MEPs are not planning to attend. Because they will be off for Christmas break as of 19 December, many MEPs have opted not to go to Brussels just for the two days and are instead returning home directly after the Strasbourg plenary session today.

Greg Archer of of T&E said the EPP/ECR compromise “will mean traffic noise won't significantly decrease before 2025 and continue to impose avoidable health and social costs. The Committee must ensure the conservative group amendments are rejected to prevent loud sports cars and noisy buses and trucks continuing to blight the lives of urban residents."

But the EPP/ECR, and also several member states led by Germany, say the stricter limits will be a hardship on the already struggling European auto industry and will result in further job losses.

The Commission put forward its proposal in December last year. It would reduce the limits on permitted vehicle noise in two stages, a total reduction across the EU of about 25%. The existing limits, set in 2007, would be lowered for cars, vans and buses by two decibels two years after coming into force, dropping by another two decibels three years later. Limits for lorries would fall initially by one decibel and by two decibels in the second stage.
© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.
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