Sunday

21st Oct 2018

Slovakia rebuffs jibes over Dieselgate no-show

  • Van Brempt (l): Slovak refusal is 'completely unacceptable' (Photo: European Parliament)

Slovakia has dismissed criticism from MEPs over the failure of its transport minister to testify at the European Parliament's inquiry committee into the Dieselgate scandal.

Slovak EU presidency spokeswoman Elena Visnar Malinovska told EUobserver on Tuesday (22 November) that Slovakia had sent “detailed replies” to written questions from the committee.

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

  • Arpad Ersek became transport minister on 31 August (Photo: EU2016 SK)

She said the government did not see the "added value" of Arpad Ersek appearing in front of the committee, adding that he had only been installed in his job "a few weeks ago". She stressed Slovakia was "committed to cooperate duly and forcefully".

Ersek became transport minister on 31 August. His predecessor had already been invited in July.

Ersek is the only invited minister who has refused to testify, according to the committee's chairwoman Kathleen Van Brempt.

His refusal is diplomatically awkward, since the Slovaks hold the rotating six-month presidency of the EU Council, where member states meet.

“Members of the committee find this failure to respect parliament’s right of inquiry, particularly by the Member State currently holding the EU Presidency, completely unacceptable,” Van Brempt said in a press release published last Friday (18 November).

“This behaviour is entirely contrary to the principle of sincere cooperation between institutions stemming from the treaties, especially considering that in the automotive sector, the implementation of the EU law is a sole responsibility of the Member States.”

But Slovakia argued that it need not appear because it does not grant final stamps of approval for car models.

“Slovakia hosts no testing facility that would type-approve the whole vehicle. In Slovakia, the technical departments only carry out type-approval of singular components,” the Slovak spokeswoman said.

EU parliament president Martin Schulz intervened on behalf of Van Brempt.

Schulz wrote to Ersek that despite the fact Slovakia does not issue these certificates, “your participation in such a hearing would still be pertinent, as the Slovak Republic currently hosts the production for Volkswagen, Kia Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen”.

The centre-left German added that with one million units produced in 2015, Slovakia is the sixth largest car producer in the EU.

“I believe that it would indeed be interesting to have more details on which are the actual arrangements in place for type-approving these vehicles,” wrote Schulz.

Van Brempt noted that the consequences of Ersek's “lack of cooperation will be duly reflected in the final report”.

Whether that will be the case remains to be seen, given that Ersek is a member of the party Most-Hid, which is part of the powerful centre-right EPP family.

The committee has previously also had trouble to convince centre-left politicians to appear. Former industry commissioner Guenther Verheugen from Germany and French socialist environment minister Segolene Royal initially declined or stalled.

Verheugen had also initially refused on grounds that he thought he would have nothing to add.

On Thursday, Royal will appear as a witness.

News in Brief

  1. Germany leads EU criticism of Saudi Arabia
  2. Huge pro-EU march takes place in London
  3. Macedonia MPs back name deal in initial vote
  4. EU to open trade talks with US on beef
  5. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  6. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  7. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  8. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain

Russian activist warns on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  2. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  3. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  4. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  5. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  6. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  7. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  8. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us