Dieselgate inquiry rapporteur welcomes European court ruling against diesel emission exceedances
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, MEP for the liberal and democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament, and co-rapporteur of the European Parliament Dieselgate inquiry committee:
"The ruling is an important victory for cities trying to provide clean air for their citizens. The court confirmed the findings of the Dieselgate inquiry committee. Allowing double diesel emissions while circumventing the democratic powers of the European Parliament is illegal. Today's ruling means that the European Commission must prepare a new proposal. The new European Parliament, after next year's elections will now be able to oppose or amend such rules. It will take some time before today's ruling will take effect, but car manufacturers will have to get ready for more stringent diesel emission limits."
On 28 October 2015, the Commission and EU Member States approved a so called "conformity factor" for NOx emissions of vehicles. The conformity factor allowed car manufacturers to exceed the legislative limits on pollutant emissions of vehicles. The argumentation of the European Commission was that the introduction of the Real Driving Emissions test (a new road test for vehicles) justified allowing significant exceedances of the emission limits.
The Commission introduced two phases. In the first phase car manufacturers were allowed to exceed emission limits with a factor of 2.1 (more than double the limit: 168 mg/km instead of 80 mg/km). In the second phase, starting for new models in January 2020 and applying to all new cars in 2021, the car manufacturers had to reduce the exceedance to a factor of 1.5 (120 mg/km of NOx), taking into account as well a margin of error. The European Commission had committed to revising the factor annually, depending on technological progress. However, so far the factors had not been reduced.
The conformity factors were introduced by the Commission making use of a technical implementation decision-making procedure. The European Parliament can in this procedure not reject a proposal with the normal parliamentary majority. Instead an absolute majority is required. The European Parliament also had no possibility to amend the proposal.
The cities of Paris, Brussels and Madrid, argued that the extra allowed emissions undermined air quality policies and that the decision-making procedure used was illegal. The General Court of the ECJ today confirmed that the decision-making procedure used was unlawful.