European automobile manufacturers have welcome the recognition last night by the EU Council of environment ministers of an integrated approach to reduce further CO2 emissions from cars.

The council also stressed the need for a transparent assessment of the impact of new legislation, including its repercussions on the labour market. The environment council conclusions are a response to the strategy proposal made by the European Commission in February of this year on how to further cut carbon emissions from cars until 2012 and beyond.

The Commission has announced drafting a proposal for a legislative framework by the end of 2007 or early 2008.

"It is essential that the EU institutions design a cost-effective policy and grant sufficient lead-time to our industry ahead of new legislation", said Ivan Hodac, secretary general of ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

"The European manufacturers support the European community's objective to further cut carbon emissions and will continue to contribute considerably to this goal.

"However, the current proposals are not feasible and focus too much on vehicle technology. To make further progress, the automobile manufacturers support an integrated approach, involving the car and fuel industries, policy makers and car users. This will achieve cost-effective CO2 reductions, to the benefit of the environment and the EU economy."

ACEA said the environment council did not take the opportunity to broaden the EU strategy in concrete terms, but did stress the need for consistent and comprehensive policy and proper assessment of the effect of legislation on the environment, the industry's competitiveness, the labour market, and fair access to new vehicles by consumers.

It also called on EU member states to give CO2-related taxation greater weight. The automobile industry supports harmonised, technology-neutral, CO2-related taxation of cars and of alternative fuels to help shape consumer demand.

ACEA members are BMW Group, DAF Trucks, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford of Europe, General Motors Europe, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, Porsche, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault, Scania, Volkswagen and Volvo Trucks and, from January, Toyota.