24 October 2000
WILL THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION NOW ACT TO SAVE 2000 LIVES A YEAR?
A cross party group of Members of the European Parliament has today written to the President of the European Commission expressing concern that the Commission may backtrack on promises to introduce life-saving legislation on safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists.
At the same time, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is today publishing new international comparisons showing that around 2000 lives and 18000 serious pedestrian and cyclist injuries could be saved annually from EU legislation requiring new cars designs to pass four tests. The largest potential saving in lives is expected in Germany (>340), France (>320), Spain (>300), the UK (>290), and Italy (>260).
Legislation has been promised by successive Commissioners and most recently by Commission Vice President and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio as one of six cost-effective EU road safety priorities. However, despite a 22 year EU funded research and development programme, the Industry Commissioner is now considering a weak 11th hour voluntary agreement proposal from the car industry.
Jeanne Breen, Executive Director of ETSC said: "The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have both urged early legislation. This is a very important life-saving measure and we are losing around 40 lives a week because this long-promised legislation is not in place. It would truly be a scandal if the Commission were to now backtrack after all this time and after so many promises."
NEW INTERNATIONAL STATISTICS
EU PEDESTRIAN AND CYCLIST DEATHS 1998 AND ESTIMATED EFFECT OF SAFER CAR FRONT LEGISLATION WITH 4 TESTS
TEXT OF LETTER FROM LEADING TRANSPORT MEPS
Konstantinos Hatzidakis(PPE) Dieter Koch (PPE),
Mr Romano Prodi,
24 October 2000
Dear Mr Prodi
EU ACTION ON SAFER CAR FRONTS FOR PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS
We are writing to you seek your urgent intervention on the matter of safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists in order to save the lives of over 170 citizens a month across the European Union.
Members of the European Parliament from all parties are very concerned to learn about Commissioner Liikanen's recent announcement to fellow Commissioners to reverse the longstanding Commission agreement to introduce mandatory tests to bring about safer car front designs in the short to medium term.
As you know, the Commission agreed earlier this year that a mandatory requirement should form one of six cost-effective road safety priorities in the Commission's road safety communication. Furthermore, this plan to introduce a Type Approval Directive has been re-iterated on a regular basis by Vice President Loyola de Palacio in Parliament and outside. In envisaging some form of voluntary agreement, Mr. Liikanen is now clearly departing from the Commission policy which has been actively promoted by the Commission to date as one of the main pillars of EU road safety policy.
This measure has been the focus of a 22 year EU-funded research and development programme, involving national transport laboratories, government departments and industry, brought together by the European Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Committee (EEVC). We are aware that the Commissioner Liikanen's approach has followed an 11th hour hastily cobbled together voluntary agreement proposal from the car industry which would weaken and reduce the tests supported by this EU programme
The four EEVC tests have been ready since the early 1990s.and have been used by Europe's main consumer car safety information programme - the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) since it started work in 1997. This programme receives substantial Commission funding. The continued poor results in these tests provide clear objective evidence of the need for legislation. Three Commissioners have promised legislation since 1997 including the two current Vice-Presidents.
The four EEVC tests have continued to provide the basis for the recent priority setting of all the EU institutions. The Commission has cited legislation on safer car fronts as one of six cost-effective legislative priorities in its road safety communication (April 2000), the Council of Ministers urged quick legislative action in their road safety resolution (June 2000); discussion on the Commission's road safety communication earlier this month confirms that it continues to be the priority road safety issue of the European Parliament.
This cross party approach to you is based on our conviction that there is no technical barrier, no cost barrier nor problem of feasibility (if applied to new designs of cars). We are also convinced that only legislation will deliver the high level of protection which citizens expect from the European Union.
In conclusion, we urge you to intervene personally in this matter to ensure that over 2000 lives can be saved and 18000 serious injuries could be reduced each year by this EU measure.
ETSC, October 2000