Sunday

24th Mar 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.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us