EU takes action against UK and Germany over dieselgate
(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission announced Thursday that it is to open infringement procedures against the 7 EU Member States for their handling of the dieselgate scandal.
The Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom have been targeted by the Commission on the grounds that they have disregarded EU vehicle type approval rules, and either failed to introduce penalties systems against car manufacturers for violating emissions limits or have not taken action against companies in light of evidence that they broke these emissions norms.
Following the revelations in September 2015 that Volkswagen Group used a defeat device software to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants, the Commission called on Member States to carry out necessary investigations into the possible presence of such devices in vehicles on their territories and ensure that EU pollutant emissions standards were scrupulously respected.
While car manufacturers have the foremost duty to abide by the law, Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said that "national authorities across the EU must ensure that car manufacturers actually comply with the law."
Member States must have effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties systems in place to deter car manufacturers from breaking the law, says the Commission, in accordance with Article 46 of Directive 2007/46 and more specifically Article 13 of Regulation (EC) 715/2007, which it says is directly applicable.
Where such a breach of law takes place, for example by using defeat devices to reduce the effectiveness of emission control systems, "these penalties must be applied", it adds.
Letters of formal notice are being sent to the Czech Republic, Greece and Lithuania for failing to introduce such penalties systems into their national law.
In addition, the Commission is opening infringements against Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom – the Member States that issued type approvals for Volkswagen Group in the EU – for not applying their national provisions on penalties despite the company's use of illegal defeat device software.
The EU executive also takes the view that Germany and the United Kingdom broke the law by refusing to disclose, when requested by the Commission, all the technical information gathered in their national investigations regarding potential nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions irregularities in cars by Volkswagen Group and other car manufacturers on their territories.
A letter of formal notice is a first step in an infringement procedure and constitutes an official request for information. The Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission; otherwise, the Commission may take further action.