Monday

21st May 2018

Investigation

Experts question EU decision to sit on emissions test results

  • A testing laboratory at the Joint Research Centre's site in Italy (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Experts on car emissions testing cannot understand why the European Commission has not shared controversial test results on Audi and Citroen cars, with relevant national authorities, after four months.

The commission said the results, dated for August, are not yet "solid enough" and that it needs time to validate the "preliminary results."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

“What is there to validate? If it's tested, it's tested,” one source with expert knowledge of emissions testing, who could not be named, told EUobserver.

The contact said that the EU's in-house science body, Joint Research Centre (JRC), which carried out the measurements, knows its own testing technology well and that therefore the commission's stance was “odd”.

The JRC has a good reputation in the scientific community and has years of experience with emissions testing, both in laboratories as well as on road.

In August, the JRC found high emissions in Citroen and Audi diesel vehicles after slightly changing the parameters of the official approval test.

“I cannot assess what they are still waiting for,” said Dirk Bosteels, an emissions expert who testified before the European Parliament's inquiry committee into the Dieselgate scandal earlier this year.

“But four months between measurements and finalising the report seems a bit long to me,” Bosteels told EUobserver.

The JRC's results, seen by EUobserver, did not prove emissions cheating, but the results suggested that the cars were designed only to pass the test, instead of fulfilling EU emissions criteria during normal driving behaviour.

Yet, four months later the commission has not yet shared them with relevant approval authorities in charge of enforcing and investigating the rules on emissions.

“It is up to us to judge when the results are sufficiently solid and technically verified to be shared,” said commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet.

“We believe that it is best to share these results with the national authorities when they are completely technically validated. That's a process that is currently ongoing,” said spokeswoman Caudet.

“When the results are solid enough, we will share them,” she added.

The test results included detailed information about the average emissions per pollutant for ten different types of test methods.

It is unclear what still needs validation.

Commission spokeswoman Caudet did not clearly explain why the validation process has taken four months. “Technical experts are working on them,” she said.

MEPs asked for it

EUobserver also asked why the commission decided to send the data to the EU parliament's inquiry committee in October, but not to national authorities with enforcement powers.

“We have sent preliminary measurements to the European Parliament's inquiry committee on car emissions at their request, with a big caveat that they are preliminary results,” said Caudet.

She said that the commission did so because the parliament has “particular powers to request information from us”.

“If an inquiry committee requests certain information, they will get it. I would also say: be careful what you ask for, you only get preliminary results. They are what they are: preliminary,” she said.

Caudet refused to be drawn on if a national authority had asked for the preliminary results.

Suggestion of cheating

The results show that the Audi and Citroen cars tested, comply with EU emissions norms only during the official test, but not during normal driving conditions.

This means that they are likely emitting more toxic pollutants than allowed.

If the cars were explicitly designed to only pass the test, the relevant carmakers may have used illegal cheating software, of the type the Volkswagen Group used.

But the national type approval authorities need to be officially informed of suspicions, so they can investigate the respective cars that they approved, and decide if a recall is needed.

Spokeswoman Caudet said the commission is wrapping up the internal assessment “as soon as possible”.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  2. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  3. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  4. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  5. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  6. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures
  7. How France escaped EU legal action over chemical ban
  8. 'Connectivity' trumps enlargement at Balkans summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight