The Commission’s follow-up report on Dieselgate shows lack of action by member states, say S&Ds

In its recommendations of 4 April 2017 following the Dieselgate inquiry, the Parliament called on the European Commission to submit by October 2018 “a comprehensive report on the action taken by the Commission and the member states on the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry”. That report was sent today to the European Parliament.

Whilst the report is clear on the actions taken by the Commission and on the relevant legislation agreed upon or still under discussion, the report is silent on any actions undertaken by national governments, especially regarding the enforcement of the legislation and remedial action against fraudulent car manufacturers.

S&D spokesperson on EMIS, Seb Dance MEP, said:

“As S&Ds we welcome the actions taken thus far by the Commission, who have taken the Dieselgate scandal seriously. With a new Real Driving Emissions test in place – that checks vehicles conformity with emission limits on the road – and with the new Regulation on Type Approval and Market Surveillance, we are unlikely to ever see such a scandal happen in the EU again.

“From 2020 onwards the Commission will also have the power to test vehicles on the market, launch EU-wide recalls, arbitrate on non-compliant approvals and sanction economic operators with EU fines.

“Unfortunately it looks like member states are less eager to bring transparency to the automotive sector. We regret their lack of engagement and lack of action to deliver clean air to their citizens.”

S&D vice-president Kathleen Van Brempt, who was the chair of the EMIS parliamentary committee, said:

“National actions were not only not reported, but also largely not taken. Three years after the Dieselgate scandal, only three-quarters of the affected Volkswagen group vehicles have undergone software updates, which means that 1,8 million fraudulent VW-vehicles are still circulating on EU roads. In addition, corrective measures on vehicles of other car manufacturers equipped with defeat devices are lagging behind.

“More worrying is that the VW recalls that have taken place seem to be ineffective. Testing done by the Joint Research Centre[1] on cars before and after recall show higher emissions after the software update. After its recall, one of the two tested cars (a Skoda Yeti) emitted above the thresholds of the Commission’s Testing Protocol for suspicious defeat device behavior[2]. It is clear that software fixes alone are not sufficient and that, similar to the diesel fixes imposed by US authorities[3], hardware retrofits (or trade-ins) will be needed.

“In Germany, car manufactures seem to acknowledge this. In a deal with the government they have agreed to pay consumers to trade-in their existing car or to install new hardware to meet the emission standards. This will improve air quality in German cities. But other European citizens must not be treated as second-rate. In order to clean up the air all over Europe, hardware retrofits have to take place everywhere, paid for by the car manufacturers. We urge the Commission to convene a Council of Ministers especially dedicated to the follow-up of Dieselgate in order to step-up national efforts and to streamline corrective measures all across the EU.”

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/joint-research-centre-2017-light-duty-vehicles-emissions-testing

[2] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/plmrep/COMMITTEES/EMIS/DV/2017/02-09/C_2017_352_EN.pdf

[3] For a comparison between EU (limited to software updates) and US (all entailing hardware fixes) recalls, see this note of the ICCT: https://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT-briefing_VW-fixes_USvEU_20171214.pdf