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9th Aug 2020

Report: Germany blocks post-Dieselgate reform

  • German chancellor Merkel visiting a Volkswagen stand at the Hannover Messe on Monday, with Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo (Photo: Kancelaria Premiera)

The German government continues to reject increased EU oversight in the approval of cars, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported in its Tuesday edition (25 April).

Germany is blocking key parts of a reform proposed by the European Commission in January 2016, shortly after it emerged that diesel cars produced by the German carmaker Volkswagen Group (VW) had been equipped with illegal emissions cheating software.

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Following the scandal, which became known as Dieselgate, the Commission proposed to introduce more checks on the currently national system of approving cars.

Carmakers can choose in which EU country to run the tests needed for a so-called type approval, and many request them in a country where the car companies also contribute to the economy.

The testing laboratories have also come under scrutiny, with worries that direct payments by the companies whose car emissions they are supposed to test, can cause conflict of interests.

However, according to the newspaper, Germany is opposed to changing the way testing laboratories are paid. It also reported that the Germans do not want the national authorities in charge of granting approvals to be double-checked by an independent body.

Germany also has not yet reached a position on the proposal that the EU commission should be able to impose high fines on cheating carmakers if the national authority has not done so, the report said.

Nineteen months after the VW scandal broke, national authorities in Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, and UK have not yet fined the group's daughter companies, Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda, for which the respective authorities had granted approvals.

Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic are also slowing down the reforms, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.

EUobserver reported in February that at least 12 member states were opposed to the Commission's proposal to have more powers to test cars independently.

If Germany, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic block the plan, it is increasingly unlikely that a deal will be reached by the time the responsible ministers meet at the end of May.

Meanwhile, suspicions of emissions cheating by other car companies continue to pop up.

On Monday, French prosecutors announced they had targeted Peugeot-Citroen for possible emissions fraud, after it had already started probes into Renault and Fiat-Chrysler.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

Investigation

Dieselgate report 'cannot be ignored'

“Dieselgate could have been avoided if member states and the Commission had followed European law. That is quite something,” rapporteur said.

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