Thursday

1st Oct 2020

EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform

  • Bienkowska: 'There is systematic failure in the type approval system in Europe.' (Photo: European Commission)

EU industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has expressed her frustration towards member states' “delay” in moving forward with a reform of how car types are approved in Europe.

“There is no time to lose. We really need a robust new type approval system. It's been more than a year now,” she said at a ministerial meeting in Brussels on Monday (20 February).

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Bienkowska proposed the reform in January 2016, four months after the Dieselgate scandal erupted, which saw Volkswagen cheating on emissions tests.

But while the European Parliament's lead inquiry committee voted on its version of the legislative proposal earlier this month, the Council – where member states gather – still has several outstanding issues.

For example, they do not agree on whether to accept the European Commission's proposal to have more oversight and emissions testing at EU level, or to require from national approving authorities that they check each other in peer-reviews.

Maltese economy minister Christian Cardona, who chaired the meeting because his country holds the six-month rotating presidency, said he hoped ministers could come to a compromise in May.

While Bienkowska thanked the Maltese for their efforts, she said there was “too little progress to show in Council”.

She repeated a request she made in November to speed up the process, and a statement she made in front of MEPs recently, that the Dieselgate affair has not significantly changed "some" member states' attitudes.

“Let me be clear. This is not only about Volkswagen,” she said. “There is systematic failure in the type approval system in Europe.”

While the Polish commissioner did not name specific countries, opposition against greater EU oversight is coming from several large member states, including Germany and Italy.

These two countries' representatives gave general statements on Monday, saying they supported efforts to “reinforce” and “strengthen” the system, without publicly stating their vision on increased EU oversight.

According to the commissioner, the current system “is not credible at all”.

“It's really a bad signal to the public opinion that it takes so much time in the Council to push forward such a reasonable – and good for the citizens and consumers – proposal,” said Bienkowska.

After the meeting, Maltese minister Cardona told journalists that the Maltese council presidency is “very committed” to reaching a compromise among member states “as soon as possible”.

He noted that the proposal was “highly complex” both from a political and technical perspective, and that “consultation with industry takes time”.

“We have doubled our resources in terms of this dossier. Give us some time please,” said Cardona.

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The EU commission wanted the power to hand out fines to cheating automakers, but the council limited the instances in which the commission can do so.

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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".

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