Saturday

21st Jul 2018

Investigation

EU legal guide on emissions still not ready

  • Many carmakers equip their diesel vehicles with defeat devices and claim they are needed to protect the engine (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission will not finish its legal guidance - designed to help member states determine whether the use of cheating software in cars is illegal - this year as announced, a spokeswoman said on Thursday (22 December).

As long as that work is not yet done, it is unlikely that national authorities will take on carmakers for using defeat devices - methods which make cars look cleaner during the official approval test than they actually are.

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.

... our join as a group

  • Bienkowska told MEPs the legal guidance will be 'tabled by December, hopefully the beginning of December'

“We are working on it,” said spokeswoman Lucia Caudet at the commission's last daily press conference of the year.

“You will see some developments there shortly. Not over Christmas though.”

Following the Dieselgate scandal, which involved Volkswagen Group equipping cars with defeat devices, Germany and the UK found that many carmakers are using such defeat devices in diesel cars.

These devices switch off, or turn down, the anti-pollution technology under certain circumstances.

Under EU law, that is allowed when it is required to protect the engine. However, during “normal use” of the car, defeat devices are banned.

Some cars use defeat devices under conditions that many consider normal: like when it is 17C or colder outside.

But Germany concluded in April that EU law, which it initially agreed to, was too vague to determine if a defeat device is legal or not.

The commission disagrees that the law is vague, but at the same time committed in June to provide national authorities legal guidance that helps them interpret the law and determine if a defeat device is allowed.

Last September, the responsible EU commissioner told MEPs that the guidance will be ready “by the end of the year”.

“The guidance will be tabled by December, hopefully the beginning of December,” she said.

Fiat: Germany vs Italy

Meanwhile, a suspicion of cheating is still hovering over Fiat.

According to the German car approval authority, Fiat had used an illegal defeat device in one of its models, which changed the anti-pollution system after 22 minutes. The official test is 20 minutes.

But the Italian authority, who had approved the model in question, said there was no defeat device. Fiat's parent company FCA is an Italian-American firm. Fiat denies doing anything illegal.

Because Italy approved the car, only Italy can take action.

In September, Germany asked the commission to mediate. According to spokeswoman Caudet the commission's “mediation mechanism” is “not a very muscled mechanism”.

She said on Thursday there was a first meeting with German and Italian representatives in November, and that a next meeting will be scheduled “shortly”.

Meanwhile, Fiat models with suspiciously high emissions are still driving around Europe, as are the millions of other cars with defeat devices.

JRC report

By e-mail later on Thursday, spokeswoman Caudet also gave an update about suspicious emissions results found by the EU's Joint Research Centre.

The measurements, done in August, had not yet been sent to national authorities for over four months. They have now, said Caudet, after being double-checked.

One of the measured results in an Audi car turned out to be lower than expected and thus less suspicious.

However, there were still several instances in which emission values shot up when the official test was changed only slightly. This may give the German car approval authority sufficient reason to ask Audi to give an explanation.

Fiat questions 'fantastical' EU emissions tests

Italian-American car maker Fiat had "no explanations" for tests showing its cars polluted above EU limits when questioned by MEPs, described some tests as “fantastical”.

Unpublished report: Italy's Fiat had high emissions

An Italian report triggered by the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal finds Fiat cars emitting more than double the EU limit. The report was finished in July, but has not been made public.

Agenda

MEPs vote on EU-Canada deal This WEEK

MEPs will have a final vote on the EU-Canada trade deal, while Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us