EU Issues Guidelines And Pressures Nations To Crack Down on Emissions Cheating

The European Union is pressing member countries to crack down on automakers violating diesel emissions regulations through new EU guidelines and legal actions.

The European Commission is concerned countries are avoiding enforcement of regulations with automakers. The commission released guidelines Thursday on how EU members should be policing the industry. EU officials say the move could lead to further legal action against countries failing to clamp down on cheating of diesel emissions regulations.

In December, the commission began legal action against Germany, Britain, and five other EU members.

The 11-page guidance document is not legally binding, but could outline legal action against member nations that don’t crack down on health-harming vehicle emissions.

The guidelines should give national regulators an indication of whether they have been abiding by definition of the rules, according to an EU source.

“A large number of car manufacturers use strategies that increase emissions outside of the test cycle,” said EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska in a statement. “This is illegal unless technically justified in exceptional cases, and the burden of proof lies with the carmaker. Cheating cannot be tolerated.”

National governments have criticized EU rules for being too vague on the issues. These rules allow automakers modify emissions control systems under certain circumstance, such as if the control system might damage a vehicle’s engine, critics say.

EC officials said the new guidance document was working on clarifying how its existing rules should be implemented.

One EU official said that Germany and other nations say that the existing law is poorly written, so past transgressions should be forgotten. “But that’s not the end of the story,” the official said, about what till come next.

“Most likely legal action will follow,” another EU official said.

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The new guidelines offer insights into patterns to look for in vehicle testing. Higher emissions in hot engine starts than in cold is an indicator of false reporting, according to the guidance document.

The guidance document calls on carmakers to provide proof of a risk of irreparable engine damage and that the latest available emissions treatment technology has been used, in order to justify modifying emissions controls.

Emissions controls used to save on maintenance costs are not acceptable in the guidelines, the document says.


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