Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Investigation

EU action on car emissions due next month

  • Bienkowska: “I can assure we won't wait anymore" (Photo: European Commission)

EU industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska is preparing to take legal action against some member states for failing to make car manufacturers follow EU rules on emissions, she said Monday evening (12 September) during a hearing in the European Parliament.

Although she did not name specific member states in danger of being at the receiving end of infringement procedures, Bienkowska did note she was “not at all satisfied” with information she has received on too high emissions from Germany, France, Italy, and the UK.

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

The Polish commissioner spoke in Strasbourg to members of the parliament's inquiry committee into the Dieselgate scandal.

The committee is investigating whether the EU institutions, and national governments, could have done more to find out about Volkswagen's emissions cheating.

But recently it has also become more critical about the lack of action by national authorities against other carmakers whose vehicles were clearly emitting way beyond EU limits.

British centre-left MEP Seb Dance asked Bienkowska why no infringement procedures have been started yet against member states.

“We are still waiting for some lacking information from member states,” said the commissioner, adding that she was “not so brave” to start infringement proceedings without first having amassed solid evidence that countries had failed to implement EU legislation.

However, Bienkowska said she would "act as soon as possible".

“You will definitely see some infringement procedures next month,” she said.

Dance asked to confirm: “Definitely?”

Bienkowska said: “Yes."

In the wake of the VW scandal, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK each carried out national investigations into real-world emissions by carmakers.

The reports showed emissions being often much higher than the EU limits, but the countries mostly accepted the carmakers alibis.

While the commission now has the reports, it has also asked for additional details because it does not want to take the national authorities' conclusions at face value.

“I am not at all satisfied with the reactions I got so far. We are on and on repeating our questions and they are not being fully responded to,” Bienkowska said.

Some MEPs, including Luxembourgish Green member Claude Turmes, wondered what more evidence Bienkowska needed.

“For example on penalties, this is not rocket science,” said Turmes.

EU countries should have put in place penalties for the use of emissions cheating software, known as defeat devices in 2009, but for years the commission did little to check if they have done so.

“I can assure we won't wait anymore in the next few weeks with our infringement procedures,” noted Bienkowska.

Environment commissioner Karmenu Vella, who testified in front of the committee after Bienkowska on Monday evening, said the commissioner's remarks were “a very good sign”.

The announcement that she would soon begin infringement procedures “was music to my ears”, Vella noted.

Emissions cheats face tiny fines in some EU states

Fines for car firms that cheat tests in the EU range from €7 million to €1,000. EU commission itself unsure to what extent states complied with rules on "dissuasive" penalties.

Unpublished report: Italy's Fiat had high emissions

An Italian report triggered by the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal finds Fiat cars emitting more than double the EU limit. The report was finished in July, but has not been made public.

Commission delays legal action on car emissions

EU industry commissioner Bienkowska had promised there would "definitely" be infringement procedures against countries that failed to make car manufacturers follow EU rules.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us