It has been almost four years since the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke out, and the European Commission and national governments are still dragging their feet when it comes to recalls and retrofits of affected cars. This is why today the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Commission and member states to deliver on the demands of the European Parliament and the EU Ombudsman.
The Socialists and Democrats want to compensate the consumers affected by the Dieselgate scandal and use this episode to accelerate new EU legislation on collective redress and the collective interests of consumers.
The European Parliament set up a committee of inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector (EMIS) chaired by S&D MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, but the Commission has yet to submit a comprehensive report to the Parliament addressing both the conclusions and the recommendations of the EMIS committee.
S&D vice-president for sustainability, Kathleen Van Brempt, said:
“There are still large numbers of highly polluting cars on our roads, causing thousands of premature deaths and irreparable harm to our environment. The way the Commission and the member states have dealt with this big scandal so far lacks seriousness and firmness. The recalling campaigns are highly insufficient and we lack a coordinated approach and control.
“The letter sent to me by Commissioner for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, is unsatisfactory. This Parliament deserves a comprehensive report by the European Commission as a college.
“The Parliament requested in a resolution that the Commission sends a comprehensive report addressing not only the recommendations, but also the conclusions, which are the core of the investigative task of the parliamentary inquiry. In particular the cases of maladministration and contravention of EU law. It is extremely worrying that even the EU Ombudsman confirms that the Commission has significantly obstructed the work of an official parliamentary committee. The Commission should draw clear political conclusions on the way it works so that it can improve in the future.
“We want to have access to the minutes of meetings of technical committees in general, and to those of its motor vehicles technical committee in particular. I think that citizens deserve to know and the EU has a commitment to transparency. What is there to hide?”
Seb Dance MEP, who is the S&D spokesperson in the EMIS committee, said:
“We still don’t know how many highly polluting vehicles are still circulating on our roads, because there hasn’t been a coordinated strategy by the Commission and the member states; neither on recalling vehicles nor on offering exchange programmes. This lack of coordinated action undermines consumer interests, the protection of the environment, the health of citizens and the functioning of the internal market.
“Member states should urgently implement the measures necessary to recall or withdraw from the market the large number of highly polluting cars. We regret that the exchange programme and hardware retrofit requirements for German car manufacturers in Germany are not applied outside of Germany, or to other car manufacturers in the Union. The car manufacturer should be responsible to clean up the existing fleet and to cover the cost of these retrofits.”