Amid the row in Britain about changes to vehicle excise duty, not a lot of people have noticed what the EU is doing in this area (although Mark Mardell has been following this doggedly...)
The EU is currently debating a fuel economy target of 130g Co2/km for new cars*. The current average is about 160g.
The Commission has smelled a revenue-raising opportunity.
The proposal says that there will be fines for manufacturers who fail to hit the targets.
And it wants the money for itself. On page 15 it says:
"Manufacturers whose average specific emissions of CO2 exceed those permitted under this Regulation should pay an excess emissions premium in respect of each calendar year from 2012 onwards... The amounts of the excess emissions premium should be considered as revenue for the budget of the European Union."
Who do you think is ultimately going to pay these fines? The manufacturer?
Or perhaps you?
*Actually, this being the EU, it isn't that simple. The target is supposed to be reached as an mass-adjusted average across fleets, which can be pooled between manufacturers, and some smaller manufacturers can be exempted. Phew!