Saturday

16th Nov 2019

NGO testing omitted from new Dieselgate legislation

  • Installation of a portable emissions measurement system, which can be used to carry out the new 'Real Driving Emissions' test (Photo: Peter Teffer)

Environmental non-governmental organisations are disappointed with the final piece of legislation aimed at preventing a repeat of the diesel emissions scandal known as Dieselgate.

The regulation was approved at the end of May by a Brussels-based committee of experts from member states, with 23 votes in favour – three member states abstained, while two did not show up.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The Dieselgate scandal saw diesel cars being approved for European sale because they were clean during the old laboratory test – while in actual use they emitted much more nitrogen oxides (Photo: Markus Spiske)

It is the fourth of a quartet of regulations that was needed to establish a so-called Real Driving Emissions test.

The Dieselgate scandal saw diesel cars being approved for European sale because they were 'clean' during the old laboratory test – while in actual use they emitted much more nitrogen oxides (NOx) beyond EU limits.

The RDE test, which measures NOx emissions on the road instead of in the lab, has been mandatory for carmakers seeking approval to sell their cars in the EU since September 2017.

The RDE test was introduced by adopting four related but separate regulations.

This fourth piece of legislation deals with enforcement and is, arguably, the most important part underpinning the promise of not letting another Dieselgate happening.

But according to NGOs, a crucial element is missing.

"The EU has rowed back on plans to allow all third parties to test vehicles' on-road air pollution after they have been sold," said the Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) in a statement.

Earlier drafts of the regulation – seen by this website – specifically gave NGOs, cities, and regions – 'third parties' – a role in the enforcement picture. That role has been removed from the final version.

In April, several NGOs told the European Commission that allowing independent groups to also do tests was essential if a new emissions scandal was to be prevented.

"Third parties tests are an essential safeguard – without third parties scrutiny in the US, the Volkswagen scandal would have not been discovered," pointed out ClientEarth in its feedback to the draft bill.

Volkswagen Group's emissions fraud involving some 11 million diesel cars worldwide was uncovered by US authorities after the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the West Virginia University reported suspicious emissions behaviour.

T&E campaigner Florent Grelier told this website via email that the commission had assured NGOs that the possibility for third parties to pay laboratories to do tests still remained.

"[But] the legal text no longer mentions all 'third parties' once, but only 'accredited labs' as the only actors allowed to feed into the process," he noted.

High burden for NGOs

Dorothee Saar is campaigner with another environmental group, the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany).

She told EUobserver in a phone interview that her organisation had started looking into getting the required certification. But it was a complicated process, she said.

"Certification is quite a high burden," said Saar, adding that her organisation was still debating whether to proceed.

She also noted that in the past it has been difficult for NGOs to have already accredited labs cooperate.

This can be because the labs do not want to upset their main clients – the car companies that they are checking – or because they simply do not have enough time.

Either way, if the fourth RDE regulation is adopted, it appearas that the status of NGOs is not much changed compared with the pre-Dieselgate situation.

It will be up to the official national authorities to do the market surveillance – a task which they neglected before the scandal broke.

MEPs now have three months to veto the regulation – but will not be allowed to amend it.

Investigation

EU to spend €1.6 million on car emissions tests

The budget was requested by MEPs. The organisation that uncovered Volkswagen's cheating says 'Dieselgate' showed the importance of funding of 'third-party' testing.

Exclusive

EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'

The EU Commission will now spend €3.4m next year to rent cars for emissions testing - after EUobserver revealed that models loaned by the manufacturer were then subject to commercial confidentiality clauses.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Focus

Thunberg rejects climate prize in hometown Stockholm

The Nordic Council's prestigious annual awards ceremony this year turned into a youth revolt, with climate activist Greta Thunberg declining the environment prize and another winner criticising the Danish prime minister for racism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us