Friday

15th Feb 2019

Investigation

Dieselgate probe timeline: how did we get here?

The European Parliament has put 45 of its members to work in a special inquiry committee to find out if the EU and its member states did enough to prevent car makers from cheating on emissions tests. They started their work in March and have a mandate for a year.

On Thursday (28 April), the committee will hold its second hearing. Witnesses today are Dirk Bosteels, executive director of an association of European companies that make technologies for engine exhaust emissions control, and researcher Udo Lambrecht.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • “We have to make sure this never happens again,” says EU competitiveness commissioner Jyrki Katainen. (Photo: RoadOver)

Here are the key events that led us here.

2007

New EU rules for car makers come into effect. They include an explicit ban on so-called defeat devices, software that, if it detects a vehicle is being tested in a laboratory, switches the car to a lower-emissions mode.

2008

Volkswagen starts selling a diesel vehicle with cheating software in the UK.

2011

The Joint Research Centre, a European Commission think tank, uses a portable testing machine to check how much cars emit while driving on the road rather than in the lab. The test showed nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (harmful pollutants known together as NOx) levels 14 times higher than the EU limit. “The findings of this report indicate that the current laboratory emissions testing fails to capture the wide range of potential on-road emissions,” it said.

2013

The Joint Research Centre, in a report about the discrepancy between laboratory tests and on-road tests, warns that car makers could be using defeat devices to cheat on laboratory tests. In private letters, two EU commissioners discuss the “significant discrepancy between the certified emissions and those actually observed on the road”.

2014

The International Council on Clean Transportation puts diesel cars to the test in the United States, initially with the idea to prove to Europe, where emissions levels are less strict, that cleaner diesel cars are possible. Instead, they found enormous discrepancies between the test results on the road and in the lab. They contact the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

September 2015

The EPA announces in September that Volkswagen had installed illegal defeat devices and issues a notice of violations. Volkswagen officials admit, say sorry, and CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns.

October 2015

European commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for industry, appears before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. She said the commission did not have "any information" about what Volkswagen did prior to the EPA's announcement.

December 2015

The European Parliament votes to set up an inquiry committee to look into the role of the commission and member states in the Volkswagen scandal.

January 2016

The European Commission announces a new legal framework for approving car types. Brussels wants more oversight, saying that the obligation member states have to enforce a ban on defeat devices was apparently not enough to prevent Volkswagen from installing them. “We have to make sure this never happens again,” says EU competitiveness commissioner Jyrki Katainen.

March 2016

After months of internal wrangling between the two largest political groups, the EP committee meets for the first time to elect a chairwoman: Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt.

Dieselgate committee rejects 'witch-hunt' gibe

The European Parliament's inquiry committee has selected its chair and vice-chairs. Already in the first meeting there were signs of political animosity over its mandate.

Dieselgate: Looking under the hood

EUobserver will closely follow the hearings and research done by the EU parliament's inquiry committee, as well as investigate aspects of the diesel emissions scandal not covered by the committee's mandate.

Visual Data

Top 100 European places where Dieselgate 'kills' most

In Europe, more than a third of those killed each year by toxic particulate matter - associated with unlawful diesel emissions exceeding the EU limits - live in about 100 conurbations, mainly in Italy, France, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us