The European Parliament has formalised new fuel-efficiency targets for light commercial vehicles aimed to cut fuel bills for small businesses and curbing emissions.

It voted to cut carbon dioxide emissions from vans by about 14% to an average of 175 g/km by 2017, signing off a deal that had already been weakened following lobbying by vehicle makers.

EU environment ministers endorsed the deal in December, it has now been ratified by the full parliament plugging a gap left when Europe agreed on ambitious efficiency targets for cars in 2008.

Germany initially resisted the measures for LCVs, forcing a weakening of the strategy to make it easier for its big automakers, Mercedes and Volkswagen. However there have been rapid gains in efficiency recently by vanmakers – 15% on Renault’s Master and 13% on Mercedes’ new Sprinter.

Emissions targets for 2020 are tougher with the European Commission setting a target of 147g/km for LCVs, although this has softened from a more contentious 135g/km.

The 2020 target will still be hard to meet, according to European manufacturers’ body ACEA whose secretary general Ivan Hodac said: “The long-term objectives will be challenging. They will require the market introduction of breakthrough technologies.”

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Manufacturers that fail to comply will have to pay a fine of EUR95 (US$128) a vehicle for every gram by which they exceed the target.

Some members of the European Parliament believe that automaking nations France, Germany and Italy have been too successful in lobbying to weaken the EU fuel standards.