Friday

20th Jul 2018

Investigation

Car industry dominates emissions rule-making body

The technical working group where new rules are being made to measure emissions on the road is dominated by the car industry, while only a handful of member states showed up during recent meetings.

EUobserver has seen a list of participants of three meetings of the working group.

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.

... our join as a group

More than half of the participants worked for automotive companies or a lobbying organisation representing carmakers' interests.

The group, known as the RDE-LDV working group, was set up in 2011 by the EU commission to develop a real driving emissions (RDE) test for passenger cars, or light-duty vehicles (LDV).

It was in the RDE-LDV working group where the test was developed to measure nitrogen oxides (NOx) in cars on the road instead of in the laboratory. These discussions were heavily delayed.

The working group is now developing a similar test to check particle emissions.

Last month, EUobserver reported that according to one attendance list of a meeting in 2011, 12 of the 28 participants were employed by carmakers, and five worked for automotive suppliers – in other words 60 percent of those around the table represented the car industry.

In the three meetings in 2016, this share is roughly the same: between 57 and 63 percent of participants represented the car industry.

At one meeting, the Brussels-based lobby group European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (Acea) had seven people in the room. At another, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association sent a five-person delegation.

The total number of participants was just under 50.

Participation from national governments is small.

At a May 2016 meeting, only representatives from the UK, Spain and the Netherlands were present. A month later, a colleague from Denmark joined them.

At the September meeting, there were also government representatives from Germany and two from France, bringing the total number of member states involved in the technical drafting of the legislation to six of 28.

The meetings were also attended by up to four civil servants from the European Commission, and one or two scientists from the commission's in-house science body, the Joint Research Centre.

NGOs

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were absent in the first of the three mentioned meetings.

Environmentalist lobby group Transport & Environment (T&E) was present during the next two meetings, and was joined the last time by the non-profit International Council on Clean Transportation.

When the lack of member state involvement and heavy representation of industry was mentioned during a meeting of the European Parliament's environment committee, the EU commission acknowledged that “industry is represented in high numbers”.

“But everyone is allowed to join,” said Joanna Szychowska, head of unit for automotive and mobility industries, at the commission's industry directorate-general.

She told MEPs on Monday (7 November) that NGOs “are more than welcome” and that there could be “50 NGOs” if they wanted.

“We are inviting anyone, but we cannot force people to come,” said Szychowska.

Member states 'are involved'

She also stressed that member states “are involved”, because the proposed rules are also discussed in another working group, the Technical Committee Motor Vehicles. This group is only open to member states, and it is where the final political decision to adopt legislation takes place.

Szychowska noted that member states present at the RDE-LDV working group “are those who are particularly interested in the rules”.

Bias by numbers

NGOs do not always have the resources to show up in the same numbers of the industry does, according to a testimony given in the European Parliament's Dieselgate inquiry committee last July. And that has an effect on how the debate is held.

“In Brussels, we have often – especially in the past – been unable even to follow certain meetings and procedures, and even now there are groups that we just skip because there are just no resources,” said Jos Dings, executive director of environmental group T&E.

“Even if we can make it, imagine yourself in a room with 20 people when you are the only green person arguing for the environment and there are a couple of member state representatives and a few people from the commission but the rest are all automotive experts and they take turns to making their arguments.”

“If you want to counterbalance that you need to speak 10 times as much as they do, which is socially completely unacceptable. So you get a natural bias by numbers in this,” said Dings.

How the car industry won the EU's trust

Car companies are allowed to do carry out some testing of their own products thanks to some little-noticed legislation inspired by an industry-backed report.

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. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  2. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  3. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  4. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  5. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  6. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  7. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  8. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us