Grace period

Published: Monday 31 January 2000

italy, Spain and Greece have to enact new laws banning the sale of unleaded petrol by January 1, 2002, two years later than the rest of the European Union ( eu ), the European Commission announced recently. Portugal will have until January 1, 2001 to meet new lower sulphur limits for diesel and one year longer to cut the sulphur content of petrol, said eu environment commissioner Margot Wallstrom.

"The main justification for this is to ensure that they have adequate time both to time the transition to unleaded petrol and to ensure a good public information campaign," Wallstrom said. The French overseas territories -- Reunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyana -- will be allowed to use leaded petrol until 2005 while Reunion will be able to maintain current sulphur levels in fuels until 2003, she said. The commission said it rejected the government's claims that the move to unleaded petrol would force older cars to be scrapped and bring severe socio-economic problems for the countries involved.

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