Press release
10 July 2001


Tomorrow, European Commissioners are expected to take a decision, at long last, on whether to accept a weak voluntary agreement or to introduce properly researched legislative tests leading to safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists. The European Commission agreed last December to give the Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen until the end of June to try and negotiate a voluntary agreement with the European car industry, otherwise they would bring forward a legislative proposal.

Jeanne Breen ETSC's Executive Director said today:
"This voluntary agreement process which has taken over a year and a half has clearly failed to deliver. We urge European Commissioners to call a halt to this debate which costs over 170 lives with every month that legislation is delayed. When so many lives are at stake, this is clearly not an appropriate issue to experiment with alternative and untried methods of harmonisation in the safety field. It is unthinkable that the European Commission could accept this poor voluntary agreement and turn their backs on EU citizens on such an important matter of public safety."

ETSC wants to see a Directive mandating four tests developed for legislation because:

  1. It could save annually over 2,000 lives and 18,000 serious injuries around 20% of all EU fatal and serious pedestrian and cyclist injuries at less than 25 euro a car additional manufacturing cost.
  2. Unlike the voluntary agreement tests, the legislative tests developed by EEVC (bringing together government and national research laboratories) have been scientifically established and tested over a 22 year EU funded research and development programme.
  3. It does not require rocket science or new technology. The tests are feasible, demonstrated already in 1985. One car model on the road now meets 75% of the requirements.
  4. Legislation is supported by the Council of Ministers (June 2000) and the European Parliament (Jan 2001)

ETSC opposes the voluntary agreement proposed by industry because:

  1. It will fail to deliver a high level of protection and, paradoxically, could lead to less safe designs, worse upper leg injuries and more disabling knee injuries than at present.
  2. The voluntary agreement in its first phase will halve the level of protection which is practicable and the second phase fails to set out definitive requirements. The agreement will not save more lives and serious injuries more quickly than a legislative requirement.
  3. The lead time proposed by the European car industry for a voluntary agreement is not far off the original date proposed for legislation and would require the agreement of other manufacturing associations around the world.
  4. Removing this important matter of public safety away from the co-decision process would be a retrogressive step at a time when EU policymaking is aiming for more transparency.

Contact details: Jeanne Breen + 32 (0) 2 230 4106/4004