Association, Inc.

Issue No. 1, 2013

European Commission presents new CARS 2020 action plan

On 8 November 2012, the European Commission presented its CARS 2020 Action Plan.  Building on a vision for European automotive industry competitiveness and sustainability in 2020 and following on stakeholder recommendations contained in the CARS 21 Final Report, this initiative proposes concrete actions to be taken on the issues of emissions, research financing, electro-mobility, road safety, new skills, smart regulation, trade negotiations and international harmonisation.

According to the Commission, the EU market for new cars has declined for the fifth consecutive year.  Besides the short-term challenges of this declining demand, the European automotive industry needs to be able to remain competitive and provide future mobility solutions. Furthermore, the Commission also acknowledges that production and trade patterns are shifting, with several third markets growing rapidly.

The action plan comprises four areas of focus, in which initiatives are summarised as follows:

  1. Investing in advanced technologies and financing innovation, by developing a proposal on the European Green Vehicles Initiative to clarify the research and innovation funding available towards energy efficiency and alternative powertrains; by continuing to work with the European Investment Bank to ensure financing for automotive research and innovation projects linked to electro-mobility; and by pursuing the implementation of the legislation setting out 2020 CO2 targets for cars and vans and launching a debate on CO2 regulatory policy for cars and vans beyond 2020.  Complementary measures will include developing and implementing a new driving test-cycle and test procedure to measure fuel consumption and emissions, and proposing an Alternative Fuels Strategy.
  2. A stronger EU internal market and smart regulation, by formulating guidelines for financial incentives for clean and energy-efficient vehicles and conducting an evaluation of the vehicle type-approval framework as well as a competitiveness ‘proofing exercise’ for major future initiatives.
  3. Global markets and the international harmonisation of vehicle regulations, by assessing the impacts of trade agreements on the competitiveness of the automotive industry, complementing multilateral regulatory cooperation under the UNECE framework with bilateral regulatory cooperation (in particular with key new players), and achieving further international harmonisation of vehicle regulations via the reform of the 1958 UNECE Agreement.
  4. Anticipating adaptation and softening the social impacts of industrial adjustments, through the creation of a European Automotive Skills Council and use of certain European financial tools for workers' retraining and re-skilling.

JAMA welcomes the European Commission’s commitments and four-pillar action plan, and supports its conclusions that action is required to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the automotive industry in Europe.  Indeed, a combination of trade agreements and regulatory harmonisation will allow automotive manufacturers to continue investing in Europe, and will open up new export markets for vehicles manufactured in Europe.

Furthermore, negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and Japan will present a perfect opportunity to integrate the ambitions of the CARS 2020 action plan into a major bilateral trade accord.  Japanese automakers have entered into many business alliances with European counterparts and are participating in public-private and/or private-level partnership projects within the EU for the production and dissemination of next-generation environmentally-friendly vehicles.  A free trade agreement will lead to even deeper partnership in future.

JAMA encourages the European Commission and EU Member States to commit to the early realisation of these objectives, in order to allow the automotive sector to grow in Europe and to contribute to the sustainable development and competitiveness of the European economy.

JAMA hopes to continue contributing to consultation and other procedures that may take place in the process of implementing the policies promoted by the CARS 2020 initiative.