European automakers hope the industry will be helped by the appointment of Portuguese prime minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso as the next European Commission president.

Durao Barroso attracted more than €1,200 million of inward automotive industry investment to Portugal during his two-year tenure as the country’s prime minister, Automotive News Europe noted.

Already facing slow sales, overcapacity, and intensifying competition from Asia, European manufacturers are concerned that new EU regulations covering areas such as exhaust emissions, recycling and pedestrian safety, will increase new car prices by €5000 in a decade.

The European auto manufacturers association, ACEA, is calling on Durao Barroso to strengthen consultation with auto manufacturers before new European legislation is introduced.

ACEA complains that they faced complicated negotiation and lack of coordination between various EC departments under the regime of outgoing EC president Romani Prodi.

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“We expect that the new president will soon start shaping the issues of the European car industry. We want a strong single policy,” said ACEA secretary general Ivan Hodac. “We hope for better coordination – currently there is a complex structure, with three or four directors to discuss the same subject with us.”

The EC proposes new European laws, manages the day-to-day running of the EU and ensures that European regulations are carried out.

Barroso, 48, a lawyer, has led Portugal’s government since 2002. His  nomination still needs to be ratified by the European parliament.

Senior executives from European automakers met Prodi on June 2 to highlight their concerns for the future of the European auto industry.

The delegation was led by Volkswagen boss and ACEA president Bernd Pischetsrieder, and included Ford of Europe chief Lewis Booth, Renault’s Louis Schweitzer and Fiat’s Giuseppe Morchio.

The delegation stressed the need for EU regulatory processes to be based on regular, timely and content-based consultation with the automotive industry – which accounts for 4% of the EU’s gross domestic product.

In particular, the ACEA wants to cooperate with the EU to define standards for Euro 5 emissions legislation, due to be proposed in early 2005.