The move comes in the wake of the so-called “dieselgate” scandal involving German carmaker VW.
The Volkswagen scandal was revealed following a study into differences between emissions from diesel vehicles in the US and Europe.
Last September Volkswagen admitted to fitting cheat devices to more than 11 million vehicles. These were designed to deceive US authorities on the levels of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted by a popular range of its diesel engines.
The firm agreed to recall affected vehicles and remove the cheat devices.
EU member states have now agreed the new emissions tests to measure particles from petrol engines.
Member state governments supported the Commission’s proposals for a conformity factor that increased the effective limit by 50 per cent to take account of uncertainties in the test procedure, and provisions to make public the test results.
They also agreed to stick with the proposed date for all new cars to comply with the rules as of September 2018.
Transport & Environment (T&E) said it “welcomes” the agreement with its clean vehicles manager Julia Poliscanova saying, “This decision will ensure petrol cars are fitted with filters to trap the tiny, harmful particles emitted in the exhaust. It is a good day for urban residents forced to breathe air polluted by car exhausts.”
A public consultation on the Commission proposal had been supported by a wide range of environmental, health and consumer organisations and cities, including T&E.
Member states also approved changes to the new nitrogen oxides (NOx) tests for diesel engines to make these more representative of real world driving.
The changes to the tests will account for the higher emissions when engines are cold and when the particulate filters are cleaned, which were omitted from the original rules.
Florent Grelier, T&E clean vehicles engineer, added, “The Commission can now focus on establishing the rules to test cars on the road using a real world test.
“This is essential to ensure cars in use perform as they do in the lab and will ensure in the future carmakers cannot circumvent the rules as they’ve done for far too long.”
A report on the dieselgate affair by Dutch Alde MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy found the Commission guilty of maladministration.
He said, "Dieselgate would not have happened if our national governments and the European Commission would have acted on their legal and administrative responsibilities.”