The 28 member states agreed on Monday to begin negotiations between the EU institutions to revise vehicle approval procedures in Europe nearly two years after the Volkswagen scandal. The Maltese presidency of the EU has drafted a compromise text on a general approach that should open the negotiations, which has brought together a qualified majority of Member States. Germany finally accepted the proposal but felt that it could have been “improved”. For its part, the European Commission would have liked “more ambition”, whereas its initial proposal – made in January 2016 – was in some respects significantly altered by the member states.
The Parliament and the Council will, together with the Commission, now open a “trilogue” to reach a final agreement on the subject.
The new procedures aim at improving the quality of the tests carried out on the new models. They will have to be realised under real circumstances (‘Real Driving Emissions Test’).
The Maltese Presidency has maintained, despite opposition from some delegations, the possibility for the Commission to impose fines directly on manufacturers who have infringed EU legislation, but only if no member state has already sanctioned or acquitted the operator concerned.
These fines, which could amount to up to 30,000 euros, are one of the flagship measures proposed.
Another novelty is that Member States have aligned themselves with the possibility for the national authorities and the Commission to carry out spontaneous checks on at least one out of 50,000 vehicles already in circulation.
Several surveys are under way in different Member States. The Commission has opened infringement procedures against Member States for failing to apply penalties or for ensuring that certain models of vehicles have not been adequately insured. Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy are targeted in particular.