Legal action against governments failing to do their job after Dieselgate to be welcomed

The start of legal action by the European Commission against national Type Approval Authorities and transport ministries for failing to do their job and clamp down on the emissions cheating exposed by the Dieselgate scandal is a very welcome and important development, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment has said. Infringement proceedings are being taken against seven countries for: failing to set up penalties systems to deter car manufacturers from violating car emissions legislation, or not applying such sanctions where a breach of law has occurred – in more than 29 million diesel cars in Europe.

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Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at Transport & Environment, said: “The Commission has bared teeth and told member states it’s time to act against the dishonest carmakers that have been manipulating tests and poisoning the air by turning off exhaust treatment systems. Toothless paper-tiger regulators must now do their job and put the health of citizens above that of engines. Dirty diesels must be recalled and fixed and national regulators must stop protecting their friends and clients in the automotive industry.”

The legal action comes as EU governments (except those of France, Denmark and the Netherlands) are trying to weaken proposals to strengthen vehicle testing. They want to prevent the Commission conducting independent tests and taking action when wrongdoing is found – effectively maintaining the failed status quo. Earlier, evidence had emerged of governments and carmakers also pushing for new petrol-engine cars to be allowed to emit over a hundred times more particles and thereby avoid fitting a gasoline particulate filter costing just €25.

Now leaked minutes [1] seen by T&E show national governments trying to cover up their efforts to weaken vehicle testing and block checks on how cars are approved. Several governments want to stop official documents being made public because “the press influences their decision-making and criticism, these are not good conditions to work”. In an instance of Orwellian doublespeak, governments want the matter to be discussed by the European Council's "Transparency" group.

Greg Archer concluded: “Not only are governments weakening desperately needed testing reform, but now they want to do it in secret. It shows the lengths to which they will go to continue prioritising the interests of domestic carmakers above citizens’ need to breathe clean air. Only a new independent agency will robustly oversee car approvals and ensure the rules that carmakers and member states want to ignore are properly enforced.”

Note to editor:

[1] The leaked minutes are from the latest meeting of the Type Approval working party in the European Council. The minutes state:

“Several member states referred to the fact that they were not comfortable with the documents being made available to the public. The press influences their decision-making and criticism, they are not good conditions to work. This should be discussed in the Council's ‘Transparency’ group.”

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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