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EU dieselgate inquiry panel to include UK MEPs

MEPs Seb Dance, Julie Girling, Daniel Dalton and Roger Helmer among 45-strong panel investigating alleged diesel testing failures

The European Parliament today (January 21) revealed the 45 names – including several UK MEPs – who will sit on its inquiry into carmakers’ breaches of EU rules on vehicle emissions tests.

The European Commission building in Brussels

The European Commission building in Brussels

Set up in the wake of last year’s Volkswagen emissions scandal, the 12-month EU inquiry was first announced in December 2015 and will also investigate alleged failures of the European Commission and member states to enforce EU car emissions standards (see AirQualityNews.com story).

In October 2015, the Parliament voted for a resolution calling for a thorough investigation into the role and responsibilities of the Commission and member states and urging them to disclose what they knew of these breaches and what actions had been taken.

And, the 45 members of the inquiry committee have now been appointed following a vote this morning, with Labour MEP Seb Dance, Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton and UKIP MEP Roger Helmer amog those appointed.

Conservative MEP and air quality campaigner Julie Girling will also reportedly sit on the committee, but her name did not show up on the intial list released by the Parliament due to a late swap with Italian MEP Remo Sernagiotto (updated 22.01.16).

Committee

The committee of inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (EMIS) will hold its first meeting in February to name its chairman and co-chairs, when up to four vice-chairs of the committee may be appointed.

The committee will then present an interim report within six months and a final report within a year of starting its work.
The committee will investigate:

  • the Commission’s alleged failure to keep test cycles under review;
  • the alleged failure of the Commission and member states’ authorities to take proper and effective action to enforce and oversee enforcement of the explicit ban on “defeat devicesâ€?;
  • the Commission’s alleged failure to introduce tests reflecting the real-world driving conditions;
  • the member states’ alleged failure to lay down provisions on effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to manufacturers for infringements, and;
  • whether the Commission and the member states had evidence of the use of “defeat mechanismsâ€? before the scandal emerged on 18 September 2015.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Belgium MEP Guy Verhofstadt – president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – said: “Something has gone badly wrong and I hope this committee will find out why EU law has not been upheld. No stone should be left unturned in the fight to uncover the truth about this environmental and public health calamity; someone has to take responsibility.â€?

RDE tests

The news follows MEP discussions earlier this week over a proposal to veto current plans to introduce a Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test procedure – designed to better reflect emissions from on-the-road driving in compassion to existing laboratory-based testing – across the EU from 2017.

Labour MEP Seb Dance (right)

Labour MEP Seb Dance (right)

These current RDE test plans, set out by the EU’s Technical Committee for Motor Vehicles (TCMV) on October 28 2015, have faced criticism from a number of MEPs, who claim that diesel car emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) would be raised by up to 110%.

As such, a decision over whether Parliament should veto these proposals will now be put to a vote at the next plenary session following last Monday’s discussion between MEPs and internal market Commissioner El?bieta Bie?kowska on Monday.

Limits

The EU Parliament’s environment committee has argued that MEPs should veto plans to relax the limits because this would undermine the enforcement of existing EU standards.

However, during Monday’s discussions, some MEPs also called on the Commission to put forward a revised proposal, as well as plans for a stronger type-approval system for vehicles in the EU.

Meanwhile, according to the Parliament, others stressed the need to put the RDE test procedure into effect without delay in order to bring down emission levels as quickly as possible, and therefore to avoid further legislative wrangling over the proposals at EU level.

In her concluding remarks, Commissionner Bie?kowska said that vetoing the proposed measures would only prolong the existing “unsatisfactoryâ€? car testing regime.

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