Lawmakers of the European Union (EU) on Thursday requested to overhaul the bloc’s rules on car approvals in a drive to prevent a recurrence of the Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal.
A committee on internal market affairs in the European Parliament voted 33 in favor to four against for amendments to EU car “type approval” rules, and asked for more EU oversight of cars and more independent environmental and safety testing.
“Type approval” is the process whereby national authorities certify that a vehicle model meets all EU safety, environmental, and production requirements before it can be placed on the market.
Daniel Dalton, who is steering this legislation through the European Parliament, said it was a “strong, robust response” to what is known as the Dieselgate scandal.
“With today’s vote, the internal market committee has sent a clear signal to national governments and consumers that it is about time we addressed the weaknesses that allowed the emissions scandal to take place,” he said.
“We agreed that the key to rebuilding consumer trust in the motor vehicle approval system is more rigorous and systematic oversight at every stage.”
The lawmakers argued that the costs of type-approval and market surveillance work must be covered by the member states in order to ensure independence.
Meanwhile, national approval authorities should be required to provide the EU institutions with market surveillance plans, which the EU regulators could reject.
Besides, the lawmakers said fines to the car makers should benefit consumers affected by breaches.
According to EU rules, car manufacturers who are in breach of the rules — for falsifying test results, for example — risk administrative fines of up to 30,000 euros (32,000 U.S. dollars) per vehicle.
“The penalties should be used to support market surveillance, benefit affected consumers and, if appropriate, for environmental protection,” the lawmakers said.
However, it seems hard for the European Parliament to find a compromise with national governments on the legislation.
In September 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in the United States had a “defeat device,” software in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, and could change the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests.
Later studies indicated similar issues might affect cars by other manufacturers, but they are so far denying any wrongdoing.
Therefore, the European Parliament has launched an investigation into why the EU tests were insufficient, who was aware of the problems and since when, and why nothing was done.
EU commissioner for industry Elzbieta Bienkowska told the lawmakers on Thursday morning that she saw “no shift of attitude” among car makers after the Dieselgate scandal.
Speaking with members of the inquiry committee into Dieselgate, Bienkowska said several national car approval authorities were still refusing to share emissions data with her.
“The general attitude has not changed and this is unacceptable,” she stressed. Enditem