Friday

22nd Feb 2019

Political fight among MEPs delays Dieselgate probe

  • Group leaders Gianni Pittella (left, S&D), and Manfred Weber (right, EPP) disagree about who should lead the emissions committee. (Photo: European Parliament)

A dispute between the two largest political groups in the European Parliament is delaying the work of an inquiry committee that will investigate the role of the EU and member states in the Volkswagen scandal.

It is now two months since the parliament decided in plenary to set up the Emissions Measurements in the Automotive Sector committee, but it has yet to hold its first meeting.

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

  • Will Belgian centre-left MEP Kathleen Van Brempt be the commission's chairperson? (Photo: European Parliament)

MEPs that are members of the committee have been left in limbo about when they will begin their work as political leaders from the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) groups try to find agreement on who should be the chairperson of the committee.

The committee will look into whether national governments and the European Commission tried hard enough to prevent car companies from cheating on emission tests.

Sources in the European Parliament told this website that the S&D wants Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt to lead the committee, while the EPP favours Latvian parliamentarian Krisjanis Karins.

“There is a quarrel between the EPP and the S&D about how to divide the work,” Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp told this website. He is one of the EPP members of the committee.

"[S&D leader Gianni] Pittella and [EPP leader Manfred] Weber do not agree yet," he said.

The S&D offered the EPP to have one of their members share the title of co-rapporteur with a parliamentarian from the Liberals group, which for the EPP is not enough.

“The EPP is the largest group, so we want the chairperson or the rapporteur,” added Van de Camp. The chairperson will lead the committee, while the rapporteur will write the final report.

“The EPP wants a lot of things,” said socialist member Van Brempt.

Negotiations

She told this website she didn't want to negotiate via the media, but did note the EPP “were against setting up the committee”.

Other sources in the EP say that the socialists do not want to give an important title like chairperson or rapporteur to a member of the group that predominantly voted against the establishment of the committee in December.

Of the 45 members of the committee, a third did not want it to be established in the first place.

But for committee member Julie Girling, of the right-wing ECR group, that is not a valid argument.

Most of the members of her political group also voted against setting up the inquiry committee.

“That doesn't mean we're not participating with full energy and attention,” she told this website.

Centre-right MEP Van de Camp also dismissed suggestions that those who had initially voted against its creation would obstruct the process.

“We are going to be professionals,” he said.

Negotiations are still ongoing. On Wednesday afternoon (17 February), the socialists had an internal meeting during which they discussed the issue.

The two largest political groups in the parliament, who have a majority together, often cooperate as informal coalition partners, which may explain why they want to resolve the issue bilaterally. But formally, the negotiations are not necessary.

No timetable

The chairperson will be selected by a vote in the so-called constituent meeting of the committee. Instead of arranging a deal before the meeting, they could let the 45 members of the committee vote.

"Eventually we could," said Van Brempt. But for now, the two groups are trying to reach a deal behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, MEPs and their assistants are left in the dark.

“We don't know,” several of them said when asked when the first meeting would be.

“We have no timetable,” noted left-wing Czech MEP Katerina Konecna, one the committee's members. “You know more rumours than I do,” said centre-left British MEP Seb Dance, adding he wants “to get on with it”.

The emissions committee is the fourth inquiry committee in the history of the European Parliament. It has already set a record. The three previous committees had their first meetings respectively 35, 48, and 16 days after they were established by the plenary.

Wednesday (17 February) marks the 64th day since the decision was taken to establish the emissions committee.

EP Dieselgate committee packed with opponents

The European Parliament has backed the composition of the committee to shed light on the diesel emissions scandal. But a third of its members are unconvinced of its utility.

MEPs to probe what EU knew on Dieselgate

MEPs to investigate if commission and national governments did enough to stop use of cheat software on emissions tests, Inquiry committee to have access to sensitive documents.

Dieselgate committee rejects 'witch-hunt' gibe

The European Parliament's inquiry committee has selected its chair and vice-chairs. Already in the first meeting there were signs of political animosity over its mandate.

Investigation

Tensions rise again among Dieselgate MEPs

Centre-right MEPs want to put centre-left MEPs in the witness stand, and accuse the centre-left chairwoman of not being impartial.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  2. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  3. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  4. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  5. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  6. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  7. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations
  8. No-deal Brexit danger 'very serious', Corbyn says after Brussels meeting

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  2. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  3. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  4. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  5. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  6. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  7. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says
  8. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy

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

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us