Brussels, 25 June 2008 - Seven countries are to be investigated by the European Commission for failing to ensure fuel consumption figures are prominently displayed in car advertising, following a formal complaint today by green groups.
Friends of the Earth Europe, together with a coalition of environment organisations,  is accusing Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain of failing to implement the European car labelling directive (1999/94/EC). The rule is designed to help consumers make an informed choice about the efficiency of the car they buy by making advertisers display emissions data clearly on billboard and magazine ads.
Next to engine technology and taxation, improved consumer information is one the European Union's main methods of driving down CO2 emissions from cars. By flouting the directive, manufacturers are not only acting illegally but also undermining efforts to reach the European car industry's CO2 reduction targets, argue the green campaigners.
"The past performance of carmakers already includes ignoring a voluntary agreement to reduce the fuel consumption of cars, leaving consumers to foot the fuel bill. At a time of record prices at the pump, member states are failing to protect consumers' rights to essential information by continually letting carmakers flout their legal obligation to include comprehensive information about fuel consumption in advertisements. It is now up to the European Commission to enforce community law," says Jeroen Verhoeven, a car efficiency campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.
The official proceedings started today follow hundreds of complaints about car advertisements which breach the directive submitted by citizens across Europe as part of the 'Advertise CO2' campaign. The initiative, set up by an alliance of campaign groups in March of this year, enables consumers to file complaints to their national regulatory body about advertisements which fail to display the required emissions data. Despite the wealth of cases identified, member states have so far failed to take action to ensure compliance with the law, hence Friends of the Earth Europe's decision to ask the European Commission to investigate.
If, following the Commission's investigations, countries continue to ignore the requirements of the car labelling directive they could face legal action in the European Court of Justice.
For more information see www.advertiseco2.eu
 In Belgium: Greenpeace, Inter Environment Wallonie, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, Friends of the Earth, In France: Reseau Action Climat France (RAC-F), Agir pour l'Environnement, Federation Nationale des Associations d'Usagers des Transports (FNAUT), In Germany: Bund fur Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), In Italy: Amici della Terra, In Poland: Instytut Spraw Obywatelskich, In Slovenia: Focus Association for Sustainable Development, In Spain: Ecologistas en Accion
 The car labelling directive 1999/94/EC states that information on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption in advertising should as a minimum, meet the following requirements:
1. be easy to read and no less prominent than the main part of the information provided in the promotional literature; 2. be easy to understand even on superficial contact.