It has been more than a year since the European Commission presented its type approval proposals (or TAFR) to reform the current system of vehicles testing following the Dieselgate scandal. Following extensive consideration by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, the final negotiations to agree the changes are imminent. The Parliament voted its position on 4 April; the Council is expected to agree most technical details at a working group meeting on the 26 and 27 April and reach a final agreement at the Competitiveness Council on 29 May.
Only three European countries are pursuing climate policies that could deliver on the promises made at the Paris climate conference, according to a new ranking published by T&E and NGO Carbon Market Watch. Sweden, Germany and France top the ranking, which is based on the ambition being shown by member states as they negotiate the terms of the EU’s most powerful climate tool, the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR).
MEPs continue to pave the way for the final vote in the European Parliament on establishing a EU agency to spot check cars on the road. After the environment committee’s vote in favour, the Dieselgate inquiry committee has now also backed a car surveillance agency. Meanwhile European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker indicated his support for the establishment of a EU testing agency to avoid another Dieselgate scandal. However, obstacles remain as some member states are reluctant.
T&E has got hold of Italy’s Dieselgate emissions investigation. The report proves that the home carmaker got special treatment, e.g. Fiat’s cars were tested in carmakers’ own labs and some even “exempted” from undergoing more demanding tests. This shows what is going to happen if type approval rules are not tightened up and all enforcement continues to sit with national authorities.
Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the draft report and recommendations of the European Parliament’s investigation into the Volkswagen emissions testing scandal, known as the EMIS committee. The draft Dieselgate report, presented by co-rapporteurs MEPs Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy and Jens Gieseke, rightly identifies the key failures of national regulators to implement the current rules on vehicle testing: failure to independently test cars in order to verify cars’ performance on the road; failure to search for illegal defeat devices despite clear obligations to do so; and failure to put in place and apply dissuasive penalties on car manufacturers.
By Greg Archer, clean vehicles directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 is the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine. There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.
By William Todts, freight and climate directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: “So what did you learn in 2016? And could you write a blog about it?" asked our communications officer.Silence. My God, where do I start, I thought. First Brexit, then Trump, and before all that there were people bombed on the metro in my hometown. What a year! But I can't write a doom and gloom Christmas blog.Then somehow I started thinking about this one thing that had really surprised me. A year ago I was campaigning to get the EU to introduce truck CO2 standards and, frankly, things weren’t looking great. Yes, there had been the Paris agreement, but still the odds were stacked against us. The Commission just didn't want to budge and the truck industry seemed all-powerful.
The number of people dying on Europe’s roads nearly halved between 2000 and 2010. However, this spectacular progress has now grinded to a halt. In 2013, 4,000 people died on our roads. Since then until today fatality numbers have remained stable. For already several years the European Commission has promised to come up with a revision of the General Safety Regulation (GSR) which is completely outdated but so far nothing is on the table. Standards set in the GSR would apply to all new vehicles produced and sold in the EU. The GSR is therefore a key instrument to drive vehicle safety developments and accelerate market uptake of and investment in new lifesaving designs and technologies.
The Commission is currently drafting its “road initiative”, which consists of two main objectives: one is the protection of the rights of truck drivers and the other is a promotional mechanism to encourage a cleaner freight transport system. If done properly, this will have a positive impact on ending the exploitation of foreign truck drivers while also reducing CO2 emissions from road transport. However, vans simply bypass all of these laws and, if the Commission fails to address this, it could open the door to the further exploitation of drivers and result in dirtier and more congested roads.