Monday

29th May 2017

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.

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.

Trump delays climate decision

The White House said it would take more time to decide if the US should remain part of the Paris climate agreement, while talks are underway in Bonn.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms