Labour MEPs: New EU vehicle standards will punish any repeat of dieselgate, with fines of up to £26k/car

The European Parliament voted this week to strengthen EU laws on vehicle standards that are designed to ensure there is no repeat of the dieselgate scandal. There will be a stronger inspections regime, tougher sanctions and greater rights for consumers.

Catherine Stihler MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament internal market and consumer protection committee, said:

“In response to the dieselgate scandal, which revealed the serious failure of the current system of approval and motor surveillance of cars, Labour MEPs and our Socialists and Democrats Group colleagues have taken the lead in tightening up the approval and surveillance of new cars to better protect consumers and the environment, and restore faith in the car industry and system.

“It is clear that the only way to get manufacturers that have abused the system to comply with the law is with a new system that is strong and enforceable. We needed and have delivered a stronger inspections regime – including fines of up to £26,000 per car – tougher sanctions and greater rights for consumers.

“We will now be able to put in place the controls, safeguards and transparency the current system is so desperately lacking: EU countries will have clear minimum targets to fulfil, the Commission will have obligations and powers for real European oversight, and the whole system will be more transparent and allow independent market surveillance by interested parties such as consumer organisations.

“It is now up to the Commission and national governments to deliver on these new rules. Parliament will closely monitor the implementation of the new rules and the performance of inspection authorities. We must all work together to ensure there is no repeat of dieselgate.”

Seb Dance MEP, member of the European Parliament’s committee of inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector, added:

“Dieselgate was one of the biggest scandals we’ve seen. It was a cynical, deliberate and systematic cheating of emissions testing by Volkswagen, polluting our environment and ripping off consumers, affecting eight million cars in Europe. And the procedures we had in place across the EU not only failed to prevent VW from cheating, but were woefully inadequate to deal with the deceit once discovered.

“These new regulations, which I and my socialist colleagues working in the emissions committee have helped secure, will ensure any repeat of dieselgate will be harder to achieve, thanks to increased surveillance and more diligent inspection authorities, but if such charlatanry does recur, it will be severely punished, with fines of up to £26,000 per car, and consumers will be additionally protected.

“The new, strengthened regulations are vital to restore consumer confidence and protect the environment, and it is essential that the UK does not water down these higher standards if it leaves the EU.”

Notes to Editors

These are the main points in the new regulations achieved by Labour MEPs and our colleagues in the Socialists and Democrats Group:

Market Surveillance: The overall package includes checks on 1 in 40,000 newly registered cars, with a minimum of 20 per cent of these checks being full emission checks covering all applicable emissions tests. In comparison to market surveillance today, where effectively no cars are being checked, this concrete minimum target will mean EU countries cannot escape their obligations. These checks cannot be documentary checks and the selection of the vehicles needs to follow a risk-based approach, for example taking into account consumer complaints. The Commission will also carry out its own independent market surveillance.

Transparency obligations: An online data exchange will be established for type approval and market surveillance information, allowing for relevant data to be also publicly available for purposes such as independent compliance verification by third-party testing.

Assessments by the Commission of national inspection authorities: One of the most sensitive issues for national governments was any EU-level assessments of the functioning of the national inspection authorities. The European Parliament emissions committee recommended EU oversight of type-approval authorities, and the new laws are in line with this, including audits every five years.

Penalties and administrative fines: Designed to deter any future breaches of the new system, tough fines and penalties will be in place to keep car manufacturers in line, and the Commission will also be able to impose administrative fines of up to €30,000 (£26,000) per car.

Consumer rights: Consumers will not pay when repairs have to be done due to corrective measures to ensure a vehicle’s compliance, including any costs they incur related to relevant repairs before corrective measures were taken.

CO2 emissions testing: The Commission however proposed the same provision on CO2 emission testing in the proposal for emissions standards for light-duty vehicles.

Repair and maintenance information: The agreement addresses a number of omissions pertaining to repair and maintenance information that are necessary for independent operators, and ensures consumers will continue to have a wider choice of repair and maintenance operators.

Date of application: In line with the recommendations of the emissions committee, the new regulations come into force on September 1 2020.