Belgium's federal police vehicles are too dirty for its new urban emissions rules

If you're going to go all Jason Bourne, consider escaping into a city rather than the country

Here's a tip you won't read every day: If you need to evade the Belgian federal police, don't head for the hills. Consider fleeing into a major city, where they might not be allowed to follow. 

Belgium's federal police forces have run afoul of tighter emissions controls enacted at the start of the year, with a number of its cars and vans now too dirty to enter the cities of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent.

Are you taking notes? Good. 

We're joking, of course — don't break any laws, please — but the Belgian feds probably aren't laughing, because this is more than just a paperwork snafu; the country takes these restrictions seriously, and the cost to keep its police vehicles on the road is proving prohibitive. 

The police force said it did not have sufficient funds to renew its entire fleet of several thousand vehicles. A spokeswoman declined to say how many vehicles now failed to meet the stricter rules.

Some exceptions have been made for certain cars clearly marked as for police use, such as those equipped with a blue flashing light and a siren, she added, but unmarked vehicles are stuck in limbo. Some of them have been shifted to duties outside the major cities.

Before you decide to take your chances on pulling off a major caper, remember that Belgium also has local police forces, such as six covering the capital Brussels.

The European Union introduced rules in 1992 to tighten emissions from new cars, with an initial set of standards known as Euro 1.

Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent already had bans in place on the most polluting vehicles, but from the start of this year also barred the "Euro 3" standard, which covered vehicles registered from 2001 to 2005.

The standards relate to the emission of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulates.

Reporting from Reuters contributed to this report.

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