Thursday

22nd Jun 2017

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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”.

Health experts to study Dieselgate impact

Scientists are aiming to provide a complete picture of the effects of the excess emissions of diesel cars, after they estimated VW's emissions test cheating would lead to 1,200 premature deaths in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  2. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration
  3. EU court lowers evidence standards in vaccine ruling
  4. Merkel and Macron to speak at Kohl's EU ceremony
  5. EU commission presents plan to enhance tax transparency
  6. Romanian PM ousted in party revolt
  7. MEPs elect new internal market committee chairwoman
  8. Starbucks to hire 2,500 refugees

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  2. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  3. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  4. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  6. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  7. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  8. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June
  9. Dialogue PlatformMuslims Have Unique Responsibility to Fight Terror: Opinon From Fethullah Gülen
  10. EUSEW17Check out This Useful Infographic on How to Stay Sustainable and Energy Efficient.
  11. Martens CentreJoin Us on 21 June for a Debate With VP Katainen on the Future of European Defence
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Criticises the Juncker Plan's Implementation

Latest News

  1. EU set to roll over Russia sanctions amid defence talks
  2. May to soothe EU leaders' post-election Brexit worries
  3. Leaders at EU summit to reinforce Libyan coast guard
  4. Macron reshuffles French government to ward off scandals
  5. Macron's summit debut could kickstart Franco-German motor
  6. Small EU states meet amid search to fill post-Brexit void
  7. Turkey received €1bn in EU money to develop democracy
  8. Bulgarian commissioner fields easy questions at MEP hearing