Since December 2015’s Paris Climate Agreement, the dominant topics in the global automotive sector have been surrounding the environment. At EU level, the legislative agenda has been no different with future CO2 emission limits up until 2030 currently under negotiation for cars, vans and trucks. However, while climate goals remain, and will continue to remain, prominent, the focus on greening future mobility has been joined by an ever-rising discussion on connected and automated mobility.

In the Third Mobility Package, published on 17th May 2018, the European Commission included two significant measures: a proposal for a revision of the General Safety Regulation (GSR) and Pedestrian Safety Regulation (PSR) and a Communication (non-legislative) on Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM). Since then, the European Commission have proposed a draft exemption to certification rules for automated vehicles and launched a roadmap for a future proposal on CCAM, while the European Parliament are negotiating a non-legislative response to the European Commission’s proposals.

The ongoing revision of the GSR/PSR includes a broad range of measures, the most significant of which include active safety measures such as a Lane Keeping Assist, Intelligent Speed Adaption, Driver Distraction/Drowsiness Monitoring and Autonomous Emergency Braking which could have a profound impact on road transport in the near future. While the file is unlikely to be agreed by the Council and the European Parliament in 2019, it would potentially see some measures introduced in 2021.

In the nearer term, the European Commission have brought forward draft guidelines on providing vehicle certification exemptions, or type-approvals, for automated vehicles through a special compliance assessment procedure in respect of new technologies not yet covered by regulation. EU Member State experts are continuing discussions, but the shape of the derogation would allow Member States to validate automated vehicles if they can demonstrate that they don’t cause accidents, they respect traffic rules, allow interactions with other road users, inform drivers and passengers when in function, and are able to detect its own limits for activation and minimum risk manoeuvre.

Furthermore, last month the European Commission launched a public consultation on a roadmap for CCAM. The roadmap indicates the content of a forthcoming legislative proposal, first indicated in the aforementioned Communication, which is expected to address the cooperation at EU level and coordination between the Member States on the use of spectrum for 5G testing for connected cars, and sector-specific cybersecurity and data governance measures.

In tandem, the European Parliament is preparing a non-legislative report to outline its position on CCAM. The opinions of the Legal Affairs and Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committees centre on issues for further clarification, including liability, data access, rights and protections. While the lead committee, the Transport and Tourism Committee are calling for the EU to seek to become a global leader in the sector, including by introducing incentives for technological innovation. Following the finalisation of the committee stage, the European Parliament is expected to adopt a Resolution on the file in December.

As this European Commission begins its final year in office, the clear signal from it, supported by the European Parliament and the Member States, is that a long-term strategy for CCAM needs to be agreed and that the potential benefits of it need to be exploited sooner rather than later in all relevant legislation. While the GSR/PSR looks unlikely to progress in 2019 due to hesitation on the part of the European Parliament, clear progress, however elementary, is being made on a number of fronts.

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