Monday

19th Nov 2018

Dispute over report EU officials brought VW scam to light

  • Commission officials told an American NGO to investigate Volkswagen's emissions tests, a German magazine wrote Friday (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

A dispute arose on Friday (13 November) over a report by a German business weekly which stated the European Commission has known about Volkswagen's emissions cheating since 2011.

The magazine also wrote that commission officials who were frustrated with inaction by the commission tipped off the American NGO International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) to dig into the matter, but the NGO in question has denied the suggestion of commission whistleblowers.

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.

... or join as a group

If the report by the respected WirtschaftsWoche is accurate, that may mean that industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has misinformed both the public and the European Parliament, when she said the commission had "no indication" car manufacturers were cheating on emissions tests.

The journalists wrote that they have seen documents which prove the commission was aware of the fraud as early as 2011. They said Bienkowska's predecessor, Antonio Tajani, had been told of the scam.

The fraud became public last September, after the ICCT notified US authorities that there was something fishy about the test results of Volkswagen.

The magazine has the chair of the California Air Resources Board on record saying it were commission officials triggering the probe.

“It was officials from the EU administration who pointed out the possible cheating on nitrogen oxide emissions to the American environment group ICCT," said Mary Nichols.

However, press agency AFP published a denial from the ICCT about the involvement of commission officials in uncovering the scandal.

"ICCT was never informed by anyone about a possible cheating on emission testing" a spokesperson for ICCT was quoted as saying.

Following WirtschaftsWoche's report, Green MEPs Yannick Jadot and Karima Delli issued a press statement.

“If this information is confirmed, it means that the former and current industry commissioners, Mr Tajani and Mrs Bienkowska respectively, have hidden the facts and knowingly lied to the European Parliament,” they wrote.

It is not the first report saying the commission may have known more than it says it did.

Last month, the FT wrote that in 2013, Tajani had a letter exchange with then environment commissioner Janez Potocnik about the “significant discrepancy between the certified emissions and those actually observed on the road”.

In the same month Bienkowska, wrote MEPs that the commission “had no indications of defeat devices being used by car manufacturers in Europe."

In an e-mailed response on Friday to this website, commission spokesperson Lucia Caudet repeated what Bienkowska had written to MEPs: "The commission was not aware of any actual instances of fraud."

Opinion

It is time for carmakers to clean up their act

First VW, now Renault, Opel or Mercedes... Europe should not let its fixation with protecting the market for diesel cars damage the long-term competitiveness of its industry.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework
  2. Austrian foreign minister: EU's Israel policy 'too strict'
  3. Soros and Kurz discuss Central European University move
  4. EU set to tighten rules on foreign strategic investment
  5. Macron repeats call for unified Europe in Bundestag speech
  6. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  7. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  8. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  2. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine
  3. EU must recognise new force for Balkans destabilisation
  4. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  5. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  6. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  7. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  8. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us