Monday

1st May 2017

Investigation

Tensions rise again among Dieselgate MEPs

  • Centre-left chairwoman Van Brempt (l) is accused of protecting fellow MEPs (Photo: European Parliament)

Political infighting seems to have returned to the European Parliament's inquiry committee into the Dieselgate scandal, with the centre-left chairwoman being accused of partiality.

The committee had for several months worked together relatively peacefully, but a meeting of the coordinators of political groups on Thursday (1 September) saw a return to political sneering.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The meeting saw German centre-right MEP Jens Gieseke propose to invite MEPs Bernd Lange and Matthias Groote to testify in front of the committee.

Lange and Groote are both centre-left Germans, and were involved in the drafting of legislation that was relevant to the Volkswagen scandal, which the committee is investigating.

In 1997, Bernd Lange was the MEP who suggested illegal emissions cheating software should be banned. EUobserver interviewed him recently.

Groote was responsible for negotiating on behalf of the EU parliament on current car emissions rules.

But according to several sources present at the meeting, the inquiry committee's chairwoman, centre-left Belgian Kathleen Van Brempt was not in favour of hearing them.

German MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel said Van Brempt “showed resistance to the proposal” and only proposed to send written questions to the MEPs. Henkel on Thursday issued a press release in which he accused her of giving her fellow socialist colleagues “some sort of 'immunity'”.

Henkel is also a centre-right member, but from the ECR group, a different unit than Gieseke's EPP.

Van Brempt could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon. She later sent EUobserver a message saying "no decision has been taken". Van Brempt said she would come with a proposal at the end of September.

One contact noted that there was a “clear majority” in favour of hearing from the two German MEPs in one way or the other, but probably in a less confrontational style than the hearings so far, which were conducted in a “ping-pong” fashion of questions and answers.

The source said that it was likely that the debate will take the form of a so-called “exchange of views”, which is usually designed as a round of questions, followed by a broad answer.

The episode is striking because in the past months the investigative committee appeared to have lost some of its partisan edges.

The committee's set-up was opposed by most of the EPP and ECR members, and its first meeting was delayed for months because of political turmoil.

But recently, the committee seemed to work more as a team, with a reluctantly cooperative EU commission as a common adversary.

The reported "reluctance" to invite centre-left MEPs is somewhat uncharacteristic of Van Brempt, who as chairwoman had apparently felt no political reservations to criticise centre-left German Guenther Verheugen as being rude when he had initially turned down an invitation to appear as a witness.

The fact that they are MEPs should also not be an argument, as one MEP is already lined up as a witness.

One of the two witnesses scheduled for Monday (5 September), Antonio Tajani, is not only a former commissioner of industry, but also a current vice-president of the EU parliament, and possible EPP contender for the centre-left-held EU parliament presidency.

That may also be a reason for a return to a sharper contrast between left and right.

EP Dieselgate committee packed with opponents

The European Parliament has backed the composition of the committee to shed light on the diesel emissions scandal. But a third of its members are unconvinced of its utility.

VW 'seems' to have broken EU laws

EU commission trying to help consumers seek compensation from Volkswagen, whose emissions cheating appears to have breached two EU laws.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual