Ahead of this week’s European Council Summit, where EU leaders will address competitiveness, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has re-iterating its call to speed up “action to secure the EU’s industrial base during the green transition”.

Speaking at a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, ACEA president and Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo said: “Europe and its auto industry are at a turning point. The challenges are huge, as is the pressure on the auto industry.

“Today, European vehicle manufacturers are facing a very asymmetrical challenge. We are no longer leading the technological race,” added de Meo. “At the same time, as purchase incentives for zero emission vehicles wane in the EU, we note massive support to our competitors in China and the US. All of this is happening in a context where overall European competitiveness is eroding.”

ACEA director general, Sigrid de Vries, said: “A major challenge for the automotive sector over the last years has been the sheer volume of new legislation, spanning from tailpipe CO2 emissions reduction to the incorporation of sustainability and due diligence criteria into automotive related legislation. And while the legitimacy of these initiatives is not in question, and industry heavily invests in delivering on their goals, Europe can and should do better for legislation to be coherent, achievable and competitive in a global context.

“The recent Euro 7 proposal on pollutant emissions is a prime example of a regulation that will add complexity and uncertainty to key decisions and investments of European vehicle makers, without bringing the environmental benefits it claims to deliver,” she added.

The Euro 6 standard in place today, together with the ramp up of electric vehicles, has the potential to deliver an 80% reduction in NOx emissions by 2035 compared with 2020, ACEA claimed.

The Euro 7 proposal would bring at most four additional points for cars, and two additional points for trucks. This marginal impact would come at a high cost: ACEA estimated the Euro 7 proposal would result in an increase of EUR2,000 to the price of a new car on average. This means that many people would be forced to extend the lives of their old cars, with a counterproductive effect on the environment and climate.

“Since fleet renewal is the most powerful tool to curb both CO2 and pollutant emissions, we should be looking for ways to accelerate it,” said de Meo. “We must also consider additional opportunities, using the right tools and acting where it makes sense. For air quality, we should focus on big urban areas, respecting the subsidiarity [sic] and [proportional] principles, because this is where it is a real issue.”

“Our message to EU policy makers is that it is possible to improve air quality, reduce climate impact and maintain competitiveness all at once. We stand ready to work together to find the best pathways to achieve these goals,” ACEA said in a statement.