22nd Oct 2016


French minister Royal snubs EU Dieselgate committee

  • French environment minister Royal (r) talking to EU climate chief Canete (Photo: European Commission)

French environment minister Segolene Royal has declined an invitation to appear in front of the European Parliament's Dieselgate inquiry committee, sending transport minister Alain Vidalies instead, parliament sources told EUobserver.

Royal's excuse reportedly is that none of the proposed dates fit her agenda.

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.

She was initially invited for a session on 7 November 2016, in a week which according to her public agenda is still void of appointments.

When this website asked a spokesman for more information, weeks ago, he asked to send an e-mail to the secretariat, to which no reply came.

Sources close to the inquiry committee noted that Royal did have time to appear in front of the plenary session of the EU parliament next week in Strasbourg, to discuss the global climate agreement achieved last year in Paris.

But despite “multiple dates” being offered for the car hearing, the French minister reportedly said she was unavailable.

The inquiry committee was set up after it emerged carmaker Volkswagen Group had cheated on emission tests. It is trying to establish if EU and national authorities could have done more to reduce dangerous emissions from diesel cars, a problem which extends far beyond VW's fraud.

Royal would have faced questions about a committee which bears her name.

According to a report published by the Royal committee, set up after the VW scandal, the lack of public checks on whether emissions in the real world reflect those tested in the laboratory “constitutes incitement to fraud”.

The Royal report was published on a Friday afternoon at the end of July, when many French and other Europeans were on holiday.

Royal's stand-in will also have to explain accusations that the report tried to “cover up” for Renault, a company in which the French state is a shareholder.

French Green MEP Karima Delli, one of the inquiry committee's vice-chairs, denounced Royal's "silence".

"One year after Dieselgate, Segolene Royal keeps burying her head in the sand, and refuses to face her responsibility as Minister for the environment in charge of air quality," she told EUobserver in a written statement.

'Exchange of views' with MEPs

Meanwhile, the EU parliament's Dieselgate committee has also decided how to gather evidence from their fellow MEPs responsible for car legislation.

At a meeting of coordinators from each political group, it was decided on Thursday (29 September) that centre-left MEPs Bernd Lange and Matthias Groote would be invited to the committee.

The two were rapporteurs who negotiated relevant car legislation on behalf of the parliament.

However, unlike the other witnesses, they will be questioned in a more informal, soft-touch way.

Several parliament sources confirmed that the debate will take the form of what is known in Brussels corridors as an “exchange of views”.

That format is a lot less confrontational than the committee's usual hearings, which have questions and answers going back and forth in a ping-pong matter.

A majority of the coordinators thought that format was most suitable, because unlike ministers like Royal or former EU commissioners, rapporteurs negotiate on behalf of the entire parliament, and are not politically accountable for the content of their reports.

The idea is being floated that MEPs who acted as shadow rapporteurs may also be invited.

However, that may cause two obstacles. One: as many as 10 such MEPs involved in drafting the text have already been identified. Two: many of them are no longer a member of the parliament and cannot be forced to appear.


One year on: Dieselgate keeps getting bigger

One year ago, it emerged that VW had cheated on emission tests in what came to be called the Dieselgate affair. EUobserver looked at how it happened and what the EU did to stop it.


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.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity