Dieselgate: S&Ds call for stronger oversight to prevent emissions cheating
Today, the European Parliament's committee of inquiry into emission measurement in the automotive sector (EMIS) voted on a report summarising its findings after almost one year of investigating the car-emissions scandal and on recommendations to prevent emissions cheating in the future.
The report concludes that car manufacturers were able to hide excessive real-world diesel emissions for years as cars were built to pass an outdated laboratory test instead of tests on the road. Despite claiming not to have been aware of any illegal behaviour, the report concludes that internal communication between Commission services revealed information on ‘hard cycle beating’ – a clear suggestion of possible illegal defeat device use – yet the Commission did not take any action to investigate this further. Member states failed to implement EU car-emissions legislation or to look into why cars they had type-approved were emitting far more pollution on the road compared to in the lab. Implementation of a new improved real-world test was delayed as industrial interests were put before health and environmental concerns.
The recommendations set out by the inquiry committee to prevent future fraud include strengthening the EU’s vehicle type-approval process and the Commission’s oversight role as well as setting up an EU agency for vehicle surveillance.
Seb Dance, S&D MEP and spokesperson on the Dieselgate scandal, said:
“The verdict is clear: maladministration and negligence made widespread fraud in the car industry possible. Even after the scandal broke, industry lobbying convinced several EU member states to delay and water down new real driving-emissions testing and allow cars to pollute at over double the level allowed by law from 2017 to 2020 and 50% more after 2020.
“Member states failed to monitor cars for illegal emissions and turned a blind eye to cheating on tests by VW and other manufacturers, and the Commission didn't enforce its own legislation, eroding consumer trust in the car industry and putting public health at risk.
"EU countries now have a unique chance to re-set the vehicle type-approval system and ensure that cars are not only clean in the lab but also on the road. The strong signal the Parliament is sending out today must not be ignored by member states. Those countries who continue to block the strengthening of the market surveillance at EU level must stop putting the interests of their own car industry above those of consumers and citizens."
S&D shadow rapporteur, Christine Revault d'Allonnes Bonnefoy MEP, added:
“After Dieselgate, business as usual is simply not an option. The Socialists and Democrats want to see stronger oversight in the form of an independent EU agency for vehicle surveillance put in place. Dieselgate happened because of member states' failure to monitor car manufacturers’ compliance with emissions legislation and because EU law is not applied equally across Europe. That is why we want the EU to be able to carry out tests and investigations on cars, including surprise tests, to make sure member states and car manufacturers are doing their job – and if they don’t, have the power to withdraw type approvals. The EU must have the means to improve public health and protect the environment. It's also an important signal for citizens that the European Parliament, the only directly elected European institution, is doing its best to promote their interests.”
The recommendations can still be amended in the vote by the whole plenary of the EU parliament in the April session in Strasbourg.