Today Socialists and Democrats welcomed the ruling of the General Court according to which the European Commission exceeded its powers by allowing much higher NOX emissions. It weakened emission limits through the back door by granting the car industry very large deviation margins to emit the legal limits established the new Real Driving Emissions tests regulation. With this ruling, the General Court upholds the actions brought by the cities of Paris, Brussels and Madrid against the Commission.
S&D vice-president on sustainability Kathleen Van Brempt, who was also the chair of the European Parliament committee of inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector (EMIS), said:
“The Commission and the member state representatives in the responsible technical committee, have put citizens’ health at risk just to give the car industry more flexibility to adapt to the adopted EU legislation. This is not acceptable. We need the European Union to protect EU citizens, not give regulatory protection to air pollution. Today's Court ruling is a bitter sweet victory. It confirms that we were right from the very beginning in our attempt to veto the regulation during the period of legal scrutiny, but the time is lost.
“There is no time to undo the wrong of the current regulation, but we expect this Court ruling to change the attitude of the Commission and member states. It should force them to revise the implementing regulation in a way that respects in full the legal emission standards for cars adopted in 2007. It's time to stop these concessions to the benefit of industry and start caring about the ordinary people and their lives. We hope that the Commission will exercise its duties and monitor compliance with what the Parliament has adopted.
“The industry should stop playing tricks and produce cars that comply with the legislation. Technology allows for it and we know that car makers in Europe already have the capacity.”
Note to the editors:
The S&D Group in the European Parliament has always claimed that the introduced large ‘conformity factors’ result in a de facto blanket derogation from applicable emission limits which were already approved by Parliament and member states in 2007 aimed to protecting citizens’ health and ensuring clean air in our cities. Such binding emission limits cannot be changed by a technical committee. For that reason, the S&D Group tried to veto the now annulled regulation once it was released. But due to the strong opposition from the right-wing parties, we did not manage to secure the needed qualified majority during the plenary vote in February 2016