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  • MEPs reject EU vehicles agency but strengthen checks on cars and national regulators

    MEPs today missed an opportunity to ensure a Dieselgate scandal can never happen again by rejecting an EU testing regulator, sustainable transport NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has said. The European Parliament’s plenary voted against establishing an EU Vehicle Surveillance Agency which would have ended the current discredited system in which national regulators have been captured by their carmaker clients. Parliament did, however, support a raft of proposals to further strengthen the European Commission's strong original proposal.

    Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality manager at T&E, said: “It is disappointing that MEPs have rejected the opportunity to make Dieselgate history by establishing an independent agency. Nevertheless the parliament has strengthened the new powers for the European Commission to spot check cars on the road and properly scrutinise national regulators. Overall this is a good package in response to the Dieselgate scandal that has poisoned the air we all breathe.”

    MEPs did vote to grant unrestricted powers to the Commission to check cars on the road and penalise carmakers as well as national approval authorities not doing their job. MEPs also backed independent audits of national authorities to ensure emissions rules will be enforced properly, and the introduction of a new online database of test results accessible to third parties – boosting transparency.

    Julia Poliscanova concluded: “The parliament’s Dieselgate inquiry has shown that the emissions scandal is largely a consequence of national regulators being unwilling or unable to enforce the rules because of the influence of carmakers. Member states should now accept the MEPs’ proposals to strengthen oversight of their work and ensure legislation is enforced uniformly. The economic interests of carmakers cannot be given priority over public health or the law any more.”

    The parliament’s Dieselgate inquiry (EMIS) report highlighted national regulators’ failure to enforce existing defeat device rules and check cars rigorously, allowing cars onto the road thus breaking EU laws. The result of this failure is 29 million dirty diesel cars and vans driving on Europe’s roads today. Volkswagen’s cheating and, more recently, Fiat’s special treatment are the tip of a cheating iceberg to which national authorities continue to turn a blind eye, even after the revelations.

    More than 70,000 Europeans die prematurely each year from high levels of nitrogen dioxide in cities, according to the European Environment Agency. Carmakers could have prevented many of these deaths by complying with Euro 5 and 6 rules.