Friday

18th Oct 2019

Court case too late to halt new EU car emissions test

  • Diesel cars are contributing to smog in Paris. The city wants to prevent a new emissions test to come into force because it is lenient to carmakers (Photo: Damián Bakarcic)

The cities Paris, Brussels, and Madrid have asked the Court of Justice of the EU for the annulment of a new on-road emissions test, but the ruling will not come in time to prevent the test from being applicable in September 2017.

“We can't expect a ruling before 1 September,” a source close to the court told EUobserver.

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

The case is about the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test, which is aimed at making it more difficult for car manufacturers to cheat with emissions measurements.

However, because the gap between the emissions measured in the lab and actually emitted on the road was so large, EU lawmakers decided to give carmakers a transitional phase.

Diesel cars can break the EU limit for dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOx) until 2020 by a factor of 2.1, which means cars that are twice as dirty as the official EU limit will still be accepted on the road.

Member states made the decision in an expert committee in October 2015, just weeks after the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal had broken. In February 2016, MEPs rallied behind the decision.

The cities of Paris, Brussels, and Madrid filed complaints with the General Court, one of the three courts that make up the Court of Justice of the European Union.

They asked, in June and July last year, for a judge to annul the EU decision.

The city of Paris also wants the European Commission “to pay symbolic damages of one euro, as compensation for the harm caused to the City of Paris as a result of the adoption of such a regulation”.

Several European cities are struggling to keep the air clean, in part because diesel passenger vehicles are much dirtier on the road than official laboratory tests suggest.

That is in part due to the fact that the official lab test is not sufficiently representative of real-world circumstances, but also because carmakers have decided to tailor diesel cars to the test.

While diesel cars that were approved under the old scheme are allowed to emit no more than 80 milligrams of NOx per driven kilometre, cars signed off as of 1 September 2017 – with the RDE test – will be allowed to emit up to 168 mg/km.

However, the three cases, which will likely be merged, are currently still in the “written procedure”, an early stage in the proceedings, according to the court source.

Since there are no hearings in August, this makes it very unlikely that the General Court can come to a decision before the new regulation becomes applicable.

Dieselgate casts doubt over low emission zones

Many European cities use low emission zones, and some are considering to ban dirty cars. But there are limits to how well the EU standards can be used to determine which cars are clean.

Investigation

EU proposes pesticide ban, but key documents still secret

Time is running out for chlorpyrifos, the pesticide which is a cause of brain damage to human fetuses and newly-born children. The EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both stated approval should not be renewed.

News in Brief

  1. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  2. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  3. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  4. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products
  5. G7: Libra should not operate until all risks addressed
  6. Kurds agree with US-Turkey ceasefire but not safe-zone
  7. US to host 2020 G7 summit at Trump golf club
  8. Turkey's pension fund buys stake in Finnish defence firm

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us