13 March 1999

European Union environment ministers said they would consider imposing binding restrictions on cars from South Korea and Japan if an agreement on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards is not reached by the end of May. The ministers were concerned about slow progress in the talks, especially with the Korean car industry.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the 15-member EU, has been attempting to convince Japanese and Korean manufacturers to make the same commitments to produce more fuel-efficient cars as the European car makers. The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) agreed last July to reduce car fuel consumption in an effort to lower CO2 emissions in the fight against global warming. That decision, however, was conditional on Japanese and Korean car manufacturers taking equivalent action.

ACEA has agreed to lower car fuel consumption to about six liters per 100 kilometres (39.2 mi/US gal) by 2008, down from the current average of 7.7 l/100km. That move would cut the CO2 emission from 186 g/km to 140 g/km.

The Commission said that negotiations with the Japan Automobile Manufacturers' Association (JAMA) were likely to produce a deal after further talks in April. However, it said it remained far apart from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers' Association (KAMA).

The ministers told the Commission to conclude its negotiations with both groups by the end of May and asked it to present a report in June that would evaluate whether legislative measures were needed to impose the CO2 emission standards.