Wednesday

1st Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 20172018 European Year of Cultural Heritage Will Celebrate European History and Values
  2. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  4. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  5. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  7. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  8. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  9. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  10. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow. Join Us on 23 March
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen