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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
EU threat over car emissions
A traffic jam on the M25
Consumers don't know enough about their cars, the EU says
The European Commission has warned eight countries that they are in breach of a law forcing them to provide car buyers with information about the fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness of vehicles.

Environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom said that the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Belgium had failed to implement a 1999 directive, which came into effect at the beginning of this year.

European environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom
Wallstrom: Warnings ignored

The law aims to give consumers detailed information on the fuel use and CO2 emissions of the new cars they buy.

"It is important for consumers to consider the potential environmental consequences of buying a new car," said Ms Wallstrom.

"I would urge each of these member states to make the necessary legal provisions as soon as possible. That was what they promised when they signed up to this Directive."

Written warning

The countries were warned in writing about the breach in April, the Commission said, but only the UK and Belgium had even replied.

Under EU legal procedure, the latest warnings - known in Commission jargon as "reasoned opinions" - count as a final demand.

The eight countries have two months to respond - should they fail to do so, the Commission has the right to take the cases before the European Court of Justice.

In the past few years, the UK has been taken to the European Court of Justice on many occasions - on issues ranging from dirty beaches to winter fuel payments for pensioners.

See also:

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30 Apr 01 | Nice summit glossary
European Court of Justice
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