European Parliament approves tighter regulations on car emissions

The European Parliament has approved concrete proposals to tighten rules and to provide proper compensation to EU consumers following the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
4 April 2017, 3:44pm
Under the draft law, car makers would no longer directly pay testing agency, but EU nations will have to fund car exhaust testing centres
Under the draft law, car makers would no longer directly pay testing agency, but EU nations will have to fund car exhaust testing centres
The European Parliament today approved concrete proposals to tighten rules aimed at preventing a recurrence of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, and to provide proper compensation to EU consumers affected by it.

In 2015, German car-maker Volkswagen admitted to using software to cheat US diesel pollution controls. The scandal, dubbed ‘Dieselgate’, spotlighted the EU's lax vehicle regulations.

The final report of the Enquiry Committee into the Emissions of Vehicles (EMIS committee) showed that Dieselgate could have been avoided if the different member states and the European Commission acted upon their legal and administrative responsibilities.

“In this context we pushed for concrete measures which tighten surveillance controls and ensure consumer compensation. This was an opportunity to enhance legislation which until now has left legal loopholes wide open to the detriment of our environment, EU consumers and our citizens’ health,” Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli, who is a full member of the committee, said.

Under the draft law, car makers would no longer directly pay testing agency, but EU nations will have to fund car exhaust testing centres. Brussels would get powers to carry out vehicle spot-checks and levy fines, while national authorities would be able to peer-review each other's decisions.

The bill also calls for EU regulators to press fines to be used to compensate car owners and boost environmental protection or market surveillance measures.

The move comes after Volkswagen offered compensation and vehicle buybacks to US car owners caught up in the emissions affair – costing the company around €19 million – while strongly resisting calls by the European Commission and some other EU politicians for similar steps in Europe. While installing cheat software in almost 9 million diesel cars in Europe, Volkswagen argued that the technology did not violate EU laws.

The proposed rules, however, stopped short of creating an EU body tasked with the responsibility to investigate complaints against manufacturers who are not compliant with the law – in the Style of the US Environment Protection Agency. The proposal was one of the key recommendations of a parliamentary report into the Dieselgate scandal, but did not receive support by the majority of the plenary vote.