By JONATHAN STEARNS
The European Union gave a legislative boost to clean
s for cars, trucks and ships in a bid to reduce air
pollution and reliance on fossil fuels.
an Parliament approved a law
that sets common technical standards and encourages more
filling stations for alternative vehicle fuels including
electricity, natural gas and hydrogen.
The legislation, a watered-down version of a January 2013
proposal by EU regulators, also seeks to expand liquefied
natural-gas (LNG) facilities
The measures endorsed by the EU assembly aim to help spur the
development of clean
s and lower their costs by establishing a Europe
-wide market instead of
fragmented national ones. The rules complement a series of EU
laws in recent years to cut air pollution, diversify energy
supplies and promote new technologies by reducing reliance on
fossil fuels such as oil.
This is a crucial step forward for the development of
alternative fuels, said Carlo Fidanza, an Italian
member who steered the draft legislation through the
28-nation Parliament on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France. EU
governments have already signaled support for the diluted
law, making their final approval a formality in the coming
The legislation seeks to address what the Europe
an Commission has called a
vicious circle holding back the market for clean
s. The commission, the EUs regulatory arm, said
when making its proposal 15 months ago that alternative- fuel
stations arent being built because of a lack of clean
vehicles, that the vehicles are expensive because demand is
inadequate and that consumers dont buy the vehicles
because they are costly and the stations dont exist.
In addition to proposing common technical standards, the
commission recommended minimum national targets for
that EU governments in
December rejected as too intrusive. That led to a compromise
between negotiators for EU governments and the blocs
Parliament, whose transport committee had broadly sided with
The new law will require EU governments to apply common
standards for alternative-fuel infrastructure for cars,
trucks and ships and to outline policies for expanding
. For electric vehicles,
the joint standard is based on a plug developed in Germany.
The legislation will force EU governments to draw up national
plans ensuring that electric cars and vehicles running on
compressed natural gas can move freely in cities by the end
of 2020 and that CNG-powered vehicles can travel on the
EUs main highways by end-2025.
The national plans will also have to ensure that trucks using
liquefied natural gas can move on the EUs main highways
by the end of 2025 and that LNG-powered ships can travel
between major sea ports by the end of 2025 and between major
inland- waterway ports by end-2030.
In addition, EU countries that choose to include hydrogen-
refueling stations in their national plans will have to
ensure that enough of these stations are available for smooth
auto circulation by the end of 2025.
Furthermore, shore-side electricity for ships may have to be
developed at major EU ports by end-2025 at the latest,
depending on demand.
The EU, with a passenger-car fleet of more than 200 million,
has about 11,000 electric cars and around 1 million autos
powered by compressed natural gas, the commission said in
January 2013. The bloc, with a commercial-vehicle fleet of
more than 30 million, has 50 trucks that run on liquefied
natural gas, the commission said at the time.
In the maritime industry, Sweden was poised last year to
provide the EUs first liquefied natural-gas facility
for sea- going vessels, the commission said.