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VW scandal exposes need for reform

Posted by Nick Prag at 24 September 2015, 22:35 CET |
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The European Commission this week urged Member States to look into whether vehicles comply with European pollution rules, following the shock revelations that Volkswagen cheated in emission tests on its diesel cars in America.

VW scandal exposes need for reform


The implications for vehicles sold in Europe are not yet clear, but the Commission is expected to investigate vehicle emissions tests in the EU.

But while it is the Commission that is responsible for setting pollution standards for cars in Europe, it is the task of national authorities to implement them. And strong lobbying from car manufacturers has led to Member States from car-making nations including Germany and France resisting the advent of stricter EU pollution rules in the EU.

They may not be able to do so much longer.

By coincidence, Members of the European Parliament's Environment Committee adopted an update of EU car emission rules this week which set limits on certain pollutants including NOx.

The new rules call for a new, real-life, emissions test procedure which would need to be enforced by 2017.

MEPs are also calling on the Commission to consider the possibility of setting a separate limit for NO2 in addition to the existing NOx limit, as modern diesel vehicles emit increasing amounts of NO2 as a share of total NOx emissions - posing a new challenge to air quality in affected urban areas.

The results of the test procedure that provides the basis for EC type approval should reflect emissions rates observed under real driving conditions, say MEPs.

Discredited laboratory tests look to be on their way out.

New rules require for the first time emissions testing of diesel cars under realistic driving conditions. This, says the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, will make Europe the only region in the world to implement such real world testing for cars.

The VW scandal means it will be much more difficult for Member States to resist the new requirements

While the implications financially for VW, and possibly the motor industry, are huge, the implications on public health are enormous also.

Public health depends on good air quality, especially in cities where many people live. It may be influenced by car emissions and other pollutants,” said the new rules' Parliament lead MEP Albert Dess. “It is very important that road vehicles comply with tough emission laws not only in the laboratory but also in the real world."

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.