VWgate: EU governments accused of favouring industry interests over public health

MEPs have strongly condemned member states' decision to grant carmakers exemptions from emissions caps.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

30 Oct 2015

When it was revealed that Volkswagen (VW) was rigging its emissions tests to make its cars seem environmentally friendly, there was uproar from policymakers, who called for new tests to be implemented. 

However, while MEPs were patting themselves on the back for voting in favour of strict caps on toxic emissions, behind the scenes it was a different story. EU governments have approved new road tests to measure real emissions, but have granted carmakers an exemption from EU air pollution rules.

This will allow cars to exceed emission norms by 110 per cent until 2020.


European deputies were outraged by the decision, with S&D group Vice-Chair Kathleen van Brempt saying she was, "shocked that European governments are ready to authorise the production of cars that will be more pollutant."

"This is a scandal. Member states obviously refuse to learn from the VW scandal and they show no responsibility for the health of their citizens. It seems that for the member states, the interests of the industry are more important than the health of our citizens."

Catherine Bearder, ALDE group shadow rapporteur on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants, said, "it is disgraceful that just as MEPs were voting for stricter pollution limits, national governments were agreeing behind closed doors to water them down."

"This is a shameful stitch-up which once again puts the interests of carmakers ahead of people's health. The technology to cut diesel emissions is already available and affordable. The public should not have to wait another five years for strict limits to reduce deadly pollution."

Greens/EFA Co-Chair Rebecca Harms urged the Commission to, "stop sitting on its hands. It needs to undertake a comprehensive investigation of tweaked pollution control devices by car manufacturers and the role of national authorities, and ensure that any transgressions are properly sanctioned."

"After years of ignoring the issue, the Commission and EU governments must now start enforcing the legal pollution limits set in 2007, and ensure a test procedure that stops carmakers producing and marketing cars that emit pollutants at a significantly higher level than the limits set under EU law."


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