Yesterday was a historic day for the automotive industry, overwhelmed by the scandal emission. The EP decided not to veto plan to temporarirly raise NOx emission limits for diesel cars after the European Commission promised a review and tabled a long term legislative proposal to revamp the EU car approval regime. The proposal to reject the plan received 317 yes votes, 323 no votes and 61 abstentions.
The vote has been preceded by a strong debate and intense negotiations took place after the EP’s Environment Committee backed the objection and the European Commission delivered. Indeed, the vote scheduled for the 21 January has been postponed to 2 February by the EP, showing a lack of shared position on this delicate matter.
“We now have clear commitments from the European Commission for a review clause with a precise timeframe, in order to bring down the maximum emission values to the levels which were agreed upon by co-legislators. A proposal for a long-term reform of the EU approval regime for cars is also on the table, as requested by Parliament”, said Giovanni La Via, chairman of the ENVI Committee. “I therefore welcome the responsible decision from the Plenary, which will allow us to go ahead with the RDE procedure in order to bring down NOx emissions from cars which are, at the moment, 400 to 500% above the official limits”, he added.
Over the past few years, the Commission has been working with determination to tighten up both the actual NOx emissions limits and the testing procedures. The EU’s executive body recently proposed a package of measures to introduce real driving emissions tests for air pollutant emissions by diesel cars. The RDE procedure was supposed to complement the laboratory based procedure to check that the emission levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) measured during the laboratory test are confirmed in real driving conditions. Member States agreed that from 1 September 2017 these new real driving emissions (RDE) tests would determine whether a new car model is allowed to be put on the market.
Today’s vote clears the way for the European Commission to go ahead with the second RDE package, in oder to complete the procedure.
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods. And this is not the end of the story. We will complement this important step with a revision of the framework regulation on type-approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles. We are working hard to present a proposal to strengthen the type-approval system and reinforce the independence of vehicle testing. We are listening to the many views expressed and ideas put forward, and I thank the European Parliament in particular for its valuable input.”