Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

Investigation

Dieselgate witness contradicts EU commission on test evidence

  • Where are the commission's missing e-mails on suspicious emissions behaviour? (Photo: Marcin Wichary)

Giovanni de Santi, a high-ranking official of the EU's science body, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), told MEPs on Thursday (1 December) that minutes were taken of meetings about a new on-road emission test, in contradiction to what the European Commission told EUobserver.

The meeting in the European Parliament also saw a heated exchange between the JRC's chief Vladimir Sucha and Green MEP Claude Turmes from Luxembourg, accusing each other of lying in raised voices.

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

  • JRC's head Sucha was accused of preventing MEPs access to e-mails, an accussation Sucha refuted (Photo: European Commission)

The exchange took place in the context of the parliament's inquiry committee into the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

The committee is looking into whether European institutions could have been expected to do more to prevent or detect the German carmakers' cheating on emissions tests.

The role of the JRC is important because it was involved in discussions about a more accurate emissions test.

The discussions, which took place in the commission-chaired Real Driving Emissions (RDE) working group, were delayed because car industry representatives were given the opportunity to repeatedly raise objections.

The commission told EUobserver in a response to a freedom of information requests that no minutes were kept of the meetings, because the commission did not see the “added value”.

De Santi, who in that period was in charge of the JRC's Vehicle Emissions Laboratories, told MEPs records were kept.

“The minutes are there. We took minutes about all the discussions, all the conclusions,” he said.

It took almost two years for the working group, which relied heavily on participants from the car industry, to reach a decision on the method for testing.

“We did not reach any kind of consensus among the participants in the RDE group, up until October 2012,” said De Santi.

But as Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy pointed out, some 60 percent of the participants came from the car industry, who may not have been interested in reaching consensus quickly.

De Santi noted that the issue was also “very difficult politically”, referring to a technical committee of member state representatives who had to take the final decision.

Before De Santi's testimony, his boss Vladimir Sucha was questioned.

He was accused by MEP Turmes for preventing the inquiry committee to see certain e-mails.

The committee had asked for all e-mail and letter exchanges between the JRC and commission directorates-general on industry, environment, and climate, concerning car emissions testing and legislation.

“We have not received a single mail in the whole period January 2010 - November 2010,” said Turmes.

If no e-mails were sent in that period, that would be quite “odd”, the committee's chairwoman Kathleen Van Brempt noted.

Indeed, it was in that period that the JRC prepared a report which it presented in November 2010 to the commission and member states, which led to the creation of the aforementioned RDE working group.

“I would really love to see your evidence for what you are saying now,” Sucha responded to Turmes' accusation that he had “blocked” e-mails from reaching the MEPs.

“I hope you are not in the post-fact society where everybody is saying whatever without the evidence,” he added, before both men interrupted each other with raised voices.

According to Van Brempt, the committee sent another request to the commission on Thursday morning.

“The commission says that they are still looking and looking,” said Van Brempt.

A third witness said something which may explain the missing e-mails, although it would be quite worrying.

“We have a system to archive the e-mails that are considered important and relevant,” said Giorgio Martini, who works at the JRC's Vehicle Emissions Laboratories.

“Then we have an automatic system deleting the e-mails older than six months. If you do not have saved this mails in folders, you will lose them.”

It later emerged that the e-mail system to which Martini referred has been in place only since July 2015. This means it cannot explain the missing e-mails from 2010.

This article was updated on Monday 5 December to add the last paragraph

EU told of possible emission cheating in 2012

The Joint Research Centre said in 2012 that a diesel vehicle was emitting much more nitrogen oxide (NOx) when the outside temperature was different from the laboratory parameters.

Investigation

Porsche told EU not to publish diesel emission result

The EU Commission has kept results of an emissions test of a Porsche diesel vehicle secret for months, at the request of the German car company - which was fined €535m for its role in the Dieselgate scandal.

News in Brief

  1. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  2. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  3. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  4. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president
  5. Putin: Russia will help Africa without 'conditions'
  6. Almost 200 arrests in Catalonia independence protests
  7. Report: Russian hackers used Iranian cover to attack UK
  8. Next EU economy chief calls for looser budget policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  2. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  3. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  4. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  5. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  6. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  7. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK
  8. EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us