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22nd Jul 2018

Investigation

Nothing to hide on Dieselgate, says EU science body

  • Sucha: 'nothing to hide' (Photo: European Commission)

The EU's science body has dismissed suggestions that a senior emissions expert was shunted aside because of the Dieselgate scandal.

Vladimir Sucha, head of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), told EUobserver on Wednesday (5 October) that the reshuffle had been planned before the Volkswagen scandal broke in September 2015.

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Emissions expert Giovanni De Santi left his post as director of the JRC's Institute for Energy and Transport on 1 July, in the middle of a European Parliament investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, and ahead of a crucial reform in car approvals legislation.

But Sucha insisted that the reshuffle was no surprise, as De Santi had been in his post for nine years.

Moreover, as director, De Santi had become less involved in daily research into emissions anyway, and the JRC still has many emissions experts, Sucha said.

Sucha also expressed disappointment with how the JRC was sometimes portrayed after the Volkswagen scandal broke.

Some left-wing MEPs in the Dieselgate inquiry committee suspect that the publication of findings on real-world emissions from passenger cars was delayed for several months in 2010, but no documented proof has been uncovered yet.

Sucha rebuffed this suspicion, insisting that the JRC had “nothing to hide”.

Instead, he noted that the JRC's development of a new on-road measurement system of emissions was actually an important achievement, unrivalled anywhere in the world.

The new system is currently being used to monitor real driving emissions, but from September 2017 will be part of the official tests cars need to pass before they can be sold in Europe.

'Clumsy'

Sucha did admit that the way an interview request by this website with De Santi was handled may have been somewhat “clumsy”.

Last May, this website had an appointment to meet with De Santi in the Netherlands, but the interview was cancelled the day before.

Instead, EUobserver was told to put questions in writing, which in the end were answered by the EU commission's spokeswoman for industry affairs, suggesting that De Santi was being shielded from the press.

But in this case too, Sucha said there were no ulterior motives.

The JRC chief made his remarks during a dinner with journalists held a day before a press trip of the institute's facility in Italy.

EU commission reshuffles car emissions expert

Move takes place amidst frustration with MEPs investigating dieselgate over lack of cooperation from the commission's in-house think tank. An interview was prevented from taking place.

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