After several weeks of fierce negotiations, latest indications are that the European Commission will tomorrow propose binding legislation that will require CO2 emissions from cars to average 130g/km by 2012.

According to Reuters, the commission will, however, still target an overall cut in average car emissions to 120g/km by 2012, with the remainder of the burden borne by the 'integrated approach' that the European automotive industry has campaigned for through its trade association ACEA.

The news agency said this was the compromise agreed after several weeks of heated debate between the environment directorate and the trade and industry directorates at the commission.

It reported this as a climb-down by environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, who favours binding legislation requiring vehicle manufacturers to produce new vehicles that emit an average 120 grams of CO2 per km in 2012. The political momentum for this followed the publication of data that showed that European manufacturers would fail to meet a voluntary target to reduce CO2 output per km to 140g by 2008. The figure currently is 161g/km.

Dimas's proposals were opposed by industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen who supported an approach that targets fuel standards and driver behaviour in addition to vehicle technology.

The German automotive industry lobbied particularly hard, saying that a target of 120g/km would place an undue burden on its competitiveness, and risk thousands of jobs.

Indeed, the German trade association, the VDA (Verband der Automobilindustrie) is expecting the announcement to include variable limits for different types of vehicle, rather than a blanket average limit. German chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to have said that Germany would block legislation that did not differentiate between car sizes.

Reuters' source said that biofuel use would contribute five grams per km while other factors such as improved tyres and gearboxes or shifting systems would make up the other five grams per km of the total goal. Proposals for new fuel standards were adopted by the EC last week.

The latest CO2 limits proposal is expected to be made at the commission's weekly meeting tomorrow (7 February).