The European Parliament decided to set up a committee of inquiry into suspected violations and irregularities in the application of Union law in connection with emission measurements in the automotive sector at the end of December 2015. This was occasioned by the exposure of exhaust gas manipulations by Volkswagen in the USA. The committee was constituted in March 2016 and comprised a total of 45 MEPs. The chair was given to Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D). Rapporteurs were the Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE) and, following a change, the German MEP Jens Gieseke (EVP).
Responsibility lies with Member States
Members of the committee of inquiry establish in the final report that the Euro 6 emission limit values can be met with the available technology. In particular, Member States are found to have breached their statutory obligation to monitor and enforce the ban on defeat devices. It is pointed out that discrepancies between nitrogen oxide emissions measured in the laboratory and on the road have been known to the European Commission, the competent authorities in the Member States and many other stakeholders since at least 2004/2005. Members of the committee of inquiry stress that a failure of the Commission and the Member States to act and inadequate conduct on the part of authorities constitute violations and administrative shortcomings in application of Union law in the framework of exhaust gas manipulations.
Committee of inquiry’s recommendations
The committee of inquiry essentially demands three points in its recommendations: first, rapid adoption of the third and fourth RDE package for measurement of emissions under real-life conditions; second, a clear reinforcement of market supervision in the new EU framework for type approval on the basis of clearly defined rules and an unambiguous division of competences; and third, stricter and more effective enforcement of the provisions on measurement of vehicle emissions in the EU. The MEPs are of the opinion that stricter control at EU level constitutes the only possibility for orderly enforcement of EU emission legislation. They propose that the Commission should be empowered to impose effective, proportionate and deterrent fines if non-compliance of vehicles is established.
Third RDE package cannot be implemented immediately
BDI expressly welcomes the work of EMIS. It is right and important to uncover wrong behaviour from the past and to make every effort to prevent it in the future. However, we are critical of the rapid adoption of the third RDE package called for in the recommendations. For instance, the introduction period for particle limit values proposed in the third RDE package would lead to interference in current product cycles and put planning certainty at risk. Conversion of all models during current production runs is unrealistic within the envisaged timeframe.