Monday

18th Dec 2017

Investigation

Leak: EU states weaken post-Dieselgate testing

  • Member states want their authorities to double-check cars' conformity on the road much less often than the EU parliament suggests (Photo: Toyota UK)

The EU's national governments continue to defend only a mild overhaul of the car approvals system, compared to the deeper reform advocated by the European Commission and European Parliament.

Confidential documents, seen by this website, show that the governments, acting through the Council of the EU, aim to water down reforms proposed by the European Commission in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, more than two years ago.

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.

The three sides will meet again on Thursday (23 November) in a so-called trilogue format, in an attempt to find a compromise between their versions of the legislation.

Common ground has already been found on large swaths of the legislative proposal, but some key disagreements remain.

The European Parliament wants to include the legal requirement that each country which approves cars also does post-certification checks on 20 percent of all car types approved there.

The Council however wants such extra checks to occur only for one in every 50,000 new vehicles, with only one in 200,000 new vehicles, or 0.0005 percent, tested on their emissions.

Per year several million new vehicles are registered in the EU, but only a few hundred types. The Council's version would allow member states to focus their extra tests on many cars of the same type.

A lack of checks by member states on actual emissions, instead of those measured in the laboratory, are at the heart of the 'Dieselgate' scandal, which saw millions of diesel cars designed in a way to fool the laboratory test.

It was discovered in the US in September 2015, after the EU and its member states failed to set up a working market surveillance system.

In January 2016, the Commission proposed a reform to remedy that situation.

Only if the three EU institutions can come to an agreement, will the proposal become law.

There is agreement that the Commission should be able to impose fines on carmakers that have cheated, but the Council wants to limit the conditions under which the Commission can do so. Negotiators have not yet found a compromise solution.

They also remain at loggerheads over how often the national authority granting the approval for car types should be audited.

The Commission proposed at least every four years; the Parliament at least every three years; the Council at least every five years.

The member states are willing to accept a requirement to publish a summary report of their findings of the type approval authority assessment.

However, they refuse to include figures on how many cars from which brands they tested - which is something MEPs want.

The negotiators are walking a tightrope. Even though they have received a mandate from their institutions, the final text still needs to be adopted by a vote.

When the Council adopted its negotiating mandate in May 2017, Greece's economy minister, Alexandros Charitsis warned their negotiator ahead of the talks.

"Even a small change could undermine the very delicate balance which has been struck in the general approach [the compromise text agreed by governments]," he said.

Ahead of the governments' agreement, there had been fierce opposition to increased EU oversight by Germany, which has a sizeable car industry, and is home to Volkswagen Group, the company whose emissions cheating started the Dieselgate scandal.

Interview

Dieselgate disappointed car-loving commissioner

Industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska often finds herself on opposite sides to the car industry, referring to diesel engines as the "technology of the past".

Dieselgate: MEPs want to give EU more testing powers

EU Commission should have power to veto national car testing programmes, MEPs in lead committee agreed. Meanwhile EU commissioner Bienkowska says member states have learned little from emissions crisis.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives