MEPs reject EU vehicle surveillance agency and opportunity to stop possible emissions scandals

4th April 2017

The European Parliament has “missed an opportunity” to limit future vehicle emission scandals by voting down the establishment of a new watchdog agency, says a leading sustainable transport group.

The parliament today voted against the establishment of an EU Vehicle Surveillance Agency.

According to Brussels-based NGO, Transport and Environment (T&E), MEPs missed a great opportunity to end the current “discredited” system for emission tests across Europe.

“The parliament’s Dieselgate inquiry has shown that the emissions scandal is largely a consequence of national regulators being unwilling or unable to enforce the rules because of the influence of car makers,” said Julia Poliscanova, T&E’s clean vehicles and air quality manager.

MEPs did however agree:

  • to grant unrestricted powers for the commission to check cars on the road
  • to penalise carmakers as well as national approval authorities not doing their job.
  • to back independent audits of national authorities to ensure emissions rules will be enforced properly,
  • to introduce a new online database of test results accessible to third parties – boosting transparency.

Ms. Poliscanova said that these measures presented “a good package in response to the Dieselgate scandal” that has “poisoned the air we all breathe”.

The European Environmental Agency estimates that over 70,000 European citizens die from poor air quality caused by high levels of nitrogen dioxide in cities each year.

“Member states should now accept the MEPs’ proposals to strengthen oversight of their work and ensure legislation is enforced,” she added.

Dieselgate

The Parliament’s inquiry into the Dieselgate scandal highlighted the failures of national regulators to enforce rules and check car emissions thoroughly. There are 29 million dirty diesel vehicles driving on European roads today.

In 2015,  it was revealed that Volkswagen had used “defeat devices” to cheat emission tests on 11 million cars, including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat diesel cars built between 2007 and 2015. This allowed vehicles to potentially emit up to 40 times the amount of permitted pollution. They have paid compensation of $4.3 billion to the US but the UK has yet to reach a deal with the German car manufacturer.

Fiat have also courted a dieselgate controversy with the Environmental Protection Agency in the US claiming they are violating laws with respect to emissions on around 104,000 vehicles. According to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, regulators for Germany’s transport ministry have reportedly found a similar defeat device in Fiat cars.

Irish car owners to take legal action against Volkswagen’s post-fix conditions.

With 125,000 Volkswagen owners in Ireland, Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy and others have criticized the government’s handling of the scandal in Ireland. “It is absolutely extraordinary that the Government is yet to formally intervene in this scandal on behalf of the Volkswagen customers based in Ireland,” Mr Troy said earlier this year.

Court actions is now being brought in Ireland on behalf of clients affected. A group of 16 drivers are looking to take a case against the car company over the damage that their fix has done to their vehicles. The Times reports that owners have suffered from a range of problems  including an increase in fuel consumption, emissions warnings on the dashboard and reduction in power. Some owners have been offered a lower trade-in value from dealers since getting their cars updated. These post-fix issues have also been reported in other countries.

The Volkswagen Group in Ireland deny the fix has had negative effects on fuel efficiency, engine performance, EGR valves or trade-in value.

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