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MEPs call for EU investigation into VW emissions

European Parliament debated the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal yesterday (October 6)

Several European Parliament members and committees have called on the Commission to open an inquiry following carmaker Volkswagen Group’s recent admission that it deliberately tried to manipulate diesel emission tests.

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. The Plenary later this month will take place in Strasbourg

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. The Plenary later this month will take place in Strasbourg.

MEPs debated the unfolding Volkswagen exhaust emissions scandal yesterday (October 6), asking European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, to clarify whether emission test manipulation took place in Europe.

Questions were raised about the credibility of the whole car sector in the wake of the scandal, and calls came from a number of MEPs for the European Commission to speed up the introduction of the RDE (real world drive) test procedure, which is currently expected to come into force from 2017.

Labour MEP Seb Dance called on the Commission to show “more urgency” on the issue, demanding the independent testing of cars as well as in-use surveillance.

Mr Dance said: “We now know that up to half the emissions savings we thought we had achieved have come from faulty testing. Consumers have been lied to, and policy makers who have to rely on the facts given by industry in order to make policy fit for purpose, have been misled.”

He added: “It’s now patently clear that future emissions tests must be free from any possibility of rigging, and the Commission must now act urgently to bring in independent tests and in use surveillance. Any attempt to water down emissions targets must been shown the contempt it deserves and stopped.”

The Parliament’s political groups will now prepare a resolution to be voted on during the October 26-29 plenary session in Strasbourg, when several pieces of air quality legislation are set to be discussed.

UK

In the UK, VW has reportedly said it expects to begin recalling affected cars from January 2016, with all vehicles set to be fixed by the end of next year.

In addition, the Vehicle Certification Agency’s recently-launched investigation into whether the VW scandal is “industry-wide” has begun, although it also stressed that “there is no evidence of this”.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has written to car manufacturers to seek further clarity and the next stage will include both laboratory and real-world testing. Neither the cars nor the testing facilities will be provided by the manufactures themselves, it has been confirmed.

The UK government has also confirmed that UK taxpayers will not incur higher Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) charges if their existing vehicles are found to be fitted with illegal software that manipulates emissions tests, as consumers have purchased vehicles “in good faith”.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our priority is to protect the public and give them full confidence in diesel tests. The government expects VW to support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK and we are playing our part by ensuring no one will end up with higher tax costs as a result of this scandal.

“We are also starting our testing programme to get to the bottom of what the situation is for VW cars in the UK and understand the wider implications for other car types to give all consumers certainty.

“I have been pressing for action at an EU-level to improve emissions tests and will continue to do so. I have also called for a Europe-wide investigation into the use of ‘defeat devices’, in parallel to the work we are doing in the UK.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Romanian government intends to charge Volkswagen additional environmental taxes, as well as potentially fining the firm, for installing the ‘defeat device’ software in some of its cars.

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