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Competitive Automative Regulatory System for the 21st century

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
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Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects,
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

In January 2005, the European Commission announced the setting up of a high-level group called “CARS 21” consisting of prominent representatives of Member States, the European Parliament, industry, trade unions, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), users and the Commission.

Its objective is to generate recommendations to improve the worldwide competitiveness of the European automotive industry. The Commision aims to improve the regulatory framework that takes account of both the public policy requirements on the one hand and the automotive industry’s competitiveness on the other. The CARS 21 High Level Group examined the major policy areas which impact the competitiveness of the European automotive industry.


The objectives of CARS 21 were to make recommendations for the short, medium and long-term public policy and regulatory framework for the European automotive industry, that enhance global competitiveness and employment while sustaining further progress in safety and environmental performance at a price affordable to the consumer.

These goals should be achieved by economic, taxation and internal market policies that encourage investment in profitable manufacturing, reviews the regulatory burden and compliance cost, and stimulates research and innovation in world leading automotive technologies.



  • Creation of the CARS 21 High Level Group, which consists of prominent representatives of the EU car sector, Member States, the European Parliament, Trade Unions, NGO, users and the Commission.
  • In order to achieve its objectives, this high level group was assisted by a "Sherpa group" at the working level.

In addition, three subject-specific working parties were set up below the Sherpa group, concerning existing legislation, fuels, and the integrated approach, respectively.

Because of the limited time frame of its mandate, from the start the Sherpa group defined the policy areas it would focus its discussions on, and grouped them into four main blocks:

  1. Better regulation: The following issues were debated under this chapter: general principles of better regulation and their application in automotive regulations, simplification of existing legislation and implementation issues (EC type-approval system).
  2. Competitiveness: This chapter covered the most important policy areas affecting the competitiveness of the automotive industry, other than environmental policy and road safety, to which separate chapters were devoted. It included research and development, taxation, intellectual property, trade and competition.
  3. Environment: The following environmental policy issues were covered in this chapter: pollutant emissions (for light and heavy duty vehicles, respectively), CO2 emissions (follow-up to the Community strategy on CO2 emissions from passenger cars, as well as alternative fuels and public procurement), mobile air conditioning systems and end-of-life vehicles directive.
  4. Road safety: This chapter was built on the European Road Safety Action Programme.

Specifically for the CO2 emissions and the road safety sections, the discussions were structured on the basis of an integrated approach, in which a number of actions aimed at reaching the policy goals and coming from vehicle technology, infrastructure and the driver were identified and assessed. The conclusions reached in these two areas reflect the approach followed.

In parallel with the work of CARS 21 the Commission organised a wider public consultation of stakeholders, with the aim of gathering the opinion of interested parties on the best regulatory framework for the European automotive industry.


Other Programme
DG-Enterprise and Industry (miscellaneous)


The project results essentially consist of a number of recommendations in several key areas such as regulatory simplification, environmental protection, road safety, research and development, trade, taxation/fiscal incentives and intellectual property.

CARS 21 examined the major policy areas which impact the competitiveness of the European automotive industry and developed recommendations.


The various policy areas examined were been grouped into the following chapters:

  • Better regulation

  • Environment

  • Road safety

  • Trade

  • Research and development

  • Taxation and fiscal incentives

  • Intellectual property

  • Competition.


Key recommendations in the above chapters are given in the Policy Implications section below.

Technical Implications


Policy implications


Recommendation no.1: Better Regulation: Apply systematically the agreed CARS 21 principles to the decision-maling process.

Recommendation no.2: International harmonisation: Maintain efforts with a view to increasing international harmonisation of motor vehicle regulations, with a view to involve the key vehicle markets and to extend harmonisation to areas not yet covered, notobaly in the framework of both the 1958 and the 1998 agreements of the UNECE.

Recommendation no.3: Simplify the automotive acquis: replacement of the 38 EC directives by UNECE regulations; repeal of Directive 72/306/EEC on diesel smoke; inclide a general provision in the framework directive which provides for the possibility that manufacturers are appointed as testing laboratories at their request and after the type-approval authority has determined that the manufacturer has the necessary competence; introduce self-testing and virtual testing in the relevant separate directives/UNECE regulations; simplify lavelling requirements under UNECE regulations; consider simplifying Directives 71/127/EEC, 74/297/EEC, 76/115/EEC and 78/932/EEC as well as UNECE Regulation 122.

Recommendation no.4: Internal Market: extend the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval procedure to all vehicle categories from the earliest possible moment on a voluntary basis.


Recommendation n.5: Reduce pollutant emissions from light duty vehicles in line with the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution: adopt a proposal for Euro 5.

Recommendation n.6: Reduce pollutant emissions from heavy duty vehicles in line with the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution: Adopt a proposal for Euro VI; international harmonisation.

Recommendation n.7: Reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles through an integrated approach: revise the Community strategy to reduce CO2 emissions on the basis of an integrated approach.

Recommendation n.8: Support the increased use of biofuels; develop policy to encourage use of biofuels which offer greater greenhouse gas savings and support research and development efforts into 2nd generation biofuels; consider the adoption of a regulation on motor vehicles using liquid or compressed gaseous hydrogen as fuel.

Recommendation n.9: Make mobile air conditioning systems (MACs) more environmentally-frie


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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