Friday

21st Jul 2017

Investigation

EU lawmakers need more time for car approval reform

  • MEP Fjellner: 'It would be irresponsible of me not to ask for extra time' (Photo: Tom Woodward)

It will take more time than initially expected for European legislators to reach agreement on a proposed reform of how cars are approved for the EU market.

The reform was proposed by the EU's executive branch, the European Commission, in January.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The system was already due to be reformed, but after it emerged in September 2015 that Volkswagen Group had cheated on emissions tests, the commission decided to propose increased EU oversight.

The current system is still very nationally-oriented, with national authorities approving cars for the entire EU market. Critics say independent monitoring is needed.

But the legislative proposal is delayed in both institutions whose approval is needed: the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU, where national governments meet.

In the parliament, the internal market and consumer protection (Imco) committee has the lead. British Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton is in charge of steering the file through parliament.

Last week, he told his colleagues he was “a little bit disappointed” because he had to delay the vote on his draft report. Instead of in November, the vote will now take place on 26 January.

Rapporteur Dalton noted that that date is 364 days after the commission published its original proposal. He blamed two other parliament committees.

“The environment and transport committees didn't get their act together and have been very slow in coming forward with their opinions,” said Dalton.

In the parliament, one committee usually has the lead to compile a report, which contains the parliament's desired version of the legislation. Other committees feed into that report by publishing opinions.

The author of the environment committee's opinion, Christofer Fjellner, told EUobserver on Tuesday (15 November) it is “correct that we needed more time”.

Fjellner, a centre-right Swede, defended the delay.

“We had more than 300 amendments,” he said over the phone.

“Sure, we could vote on 300 amendments. The reason we decided to postpone is that we saw a great opportunity to have the broadest possible majority. It would be irresponsible of me not to ask for extra time.”

Fjellner will now negotiate with other political groups to see which amendments can be merged into compromise texts, and which ones can be traded off against each other in a political haggle.

Fjellner also noted that the parliament taking one year to come to a position “is by no means extreme”, and said that the original timetable had been “pretty tight”.

Indeed, the current directive, which the proposal aims to replace, was proposed in July 2003 and only adopted four years later, in September 2007.

Inquiry committee

Karima Delli, the author of the transport committee's opinion, gave a different perspective.

She said she had tried “from the very beginning” to make sure that the timetable for her committee's opinion ran parallel to that of the parliament's inquiry committee into the emissions scandal.

Several MEPs, like Delli, who sit in both committees wanted to make sure that the lessons drawn in that probe make their way into the reform proposal.

The picture that emerges from the Emis hearings is that there was a lack of independent oversight, and Delli, a left-wing French deputy who sits with the Green group, was among those that wanted an EU agency in charge of monitoring the sector.

“Apparently we were right to wait for Emis to draw its first and temporary conclusions, because we are close to a very good compromise regarding the European authority we've been asking for,” she told EUobserver via e-mail.

Member states

Member states also need more time to come to a common position.

The reform proposal is a “highly complex dossier”, said a diplomatic EU source.

As a result, technical talks by national experts will probably not finish on time for a ministerial meeting in Brussels on 28 November.

Initially it was expected that there would be a substantive debate by ministers, but a spokeswoman for the Slovak council presidency said the presidency would present a state of play report, “highlighting the issues where further discussions are needed”.

In particular the proposed increased EU oversight is a hot potato.

A second EU source said that there was “no appetite in capitals for more Europeanisation, no matter what file it is”.

"Countries with a strong automotive industry prefer to keep national control over type approvals, but there is also a general mood of uneasiness towards a Europeanisation of the type approval process.”

November's meeting is the last time this year that the competitiveness ministers meet.

A political discussion is needed so that the ministers can reach a common position based on which the presidency can negotiate with the EU parliament, who will be represented by MEP Dalton.

This article was updated on Wednesday 16 November to include comments from MEP Karima Delli

Why doesn't the EU have a road transport agency?

There are EU agencies covering maritime transport, aviation, and railways, but road transport never got its own. Some MEPs are now advocating one, to the chagrin of many member states.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law