HC Deb 14 July 1997 vol 298 cc6-7W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of 23 June PT/EE/PS0/5476/97 if he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations to create cleaner fuels in Europe. [7935]

Angela Eagle

At the European Environment Council of 19–20 June this year, Ministers reached a common position on a directive setting standards for fuel quality. The United Kingdom argued that the standards proposed by the Commission were, in some cases, insufficiently tight, and supported in particular a lowering of the Commission's proposals for the sulphur content of petrol (200 parts per million—ppm) and benzene (2 per cent.).

Mandatory standards for petrol and diesel were agreed for the year 2000 as follows: petrol—a sulphur content of 150 ppm, a benzene content of 1 per cent. and an aromatics content of 42 per cent.; diesel—a sulphur content, set at 350 parts per million. Other parameters for 2000 were agreed as proposed by the European Commission. The UK also supported, and Ministers agreed, the Dutch Presidency's proposal of indicative standards for the year 2005 of 50 ppm sulphur in both petrol and diesel (the latter to be phased in from 2005), and 35 per cent. aromatics content in petrol. These figures will be subject to review and the Commission will bring forward proposals by mid-1999 either to confirm or adjust them.

As the adoption of these directives is by the co-decision procedure, agreement with the European Parliament will have to be reached before the directive can be adopted.