Thursday

21st Nov 2019

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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

“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”.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us