Wednesday

16th Jan 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. British PM scrapes through no confidence vote
  2. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  3. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  4. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  5. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  6. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  7. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  8. German economy hit by global economic turbulence

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. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  2. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  3. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  4. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  5. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  6. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  7. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025
  8. MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us