EU Targets Italy For Failing To Address Claims Against Fiat Chrysler On Emissions Reporting

Italy is facing legal action by the European Commission for failing to respond to claims of Fiat Chrysler Automobile having cheated on testing of vehicle emissions.

The legal procedure could send the Italian government to court as the European Union cracks down on countries and automakers for the burgeoning scandal over diesel vehicle emissions; and for failure to accurately test and evaluate vehicle emissions overall in Europe.

The Commission took action due to Italy failing to convince it that devices FCA had been using to modulate emissions outside of narrow testing conditions were legally sound and worthy of government approval.

“The Commission is now formally asking Italy to respond to its concerns that the manufacturer has not sufficiently justified the technical necessity – and thus the legality – of the defeat device used,” the Commission said in a statement.

Italy now has two months to respond to the request. If that response fails to convince the Commission, it’s likely to lead to the legal issues being taken to the European Court of Justice.

Last year, Germany had started the investigation by accusing FCA of using an illegal device for emissions testing in its Fiat 500X, Fiat Doblo, and Jeep Renegade models.

The European Commission had been mediating the dispute Germany and Italy, which ended in March.

Italy had asked for a delay on any further action until the issues were clarified.

“Considering that after the end of the mediation process, we did not receive any request for further information … we ask that you delay starting the infringement procedure while we await a letter asking for clarification on issues raised by your relevant offices,” Italy’s Transport Minister Graziano Delrio told EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, according to the ministry’s statement.

Last December, the Commission launched cases against Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, for failing the accurately test and enforce emissions rules. EU officials have become frustrated with what they perceive as governments being too closely aligned with automakers to clamp down on emissions violations, especially polluting nitrogen oxide (NOx), ever since the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal broke in 2015.

The Commission is expected to approve later this month an overhaul of EU rules that would give it to the power to fine automakers who cheat the system up to 30,000 euros ($33,478) per affected vehicle.

The current regulations allow governments in EU member nations to approve new vehicles that could then be sold throughout the EU.

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Delrio is disputing the Commission’s claim by saying that the material Italy had sent to the Commission during the mediation process showed that the vehicles’ approval process had been correctly performed.

“Contrary to what your offices have stated, the Italian authorities have from the start ruled out the presence of any illegal devices in Fiat’s models, both the original ones and those that have been refitted,” Delrio said.

It’s expected that the Commission’s action against Italy will be the first step in bringing the other EU member nations in alignment with uniform emissions reporting standards being enforced.

Reuters