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EU proposes changes to vehicle type approval framework

27 January 2016

The European Commission released a legislative proposal that would bring a number of changes to the EU vehicle type approval framework. The proposal, issued in the aftermath of the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal, attempts to strengthen the EU oversight over the emission type approval and in-use compliance system.

Under current rules, while the EU sets the legal framework, national authorities are solely and fully responsible for vehicle emission certification and the enforcement of emission regulations. The responsibility to remedy wrongdoings lies with the Member State in which the type approval has been granted—neither other Member States nor the Commission can initiate a recall. The proposal would make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation, with a strengthened European oversight. Today's proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles complements efforts to introduce more robust emissions testing (Real Driving Emissions testing), said the Commission.

The proposal aims to achieve three objectives:

Under the proposal, the manufacturer will have to provide access to the car’s software protocols. This measure, which complements the Real Driving Emissions package, includes an obligation for manufacturers to disclose their emissions reduction strategy, as is the case in the United States.

The European Union has some of the world’s strongest and most protective vehicle emission limits, but the enforcement mechanisms have been often considered weak and inefficient. In jurisdictions with more effective enforcement of emission regulations—such as the United States and California—emission related vehicle recalls are commonly issued every year. In the European Union countries, vehicles are normally never recalled due to emission compliance issues.

The lack of EU-level enforcement is one of the reasons that may allow Volkswagen to walk away from the emission scandal relatively unharmed. It seems ironic that most of the fines and penalties could be coming from the United States—a market where only about 5% of the affected VW vehicles were sold.

In the next step, the draft Regulation will be sent to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. Once adopted, it will repeal and replace Directive 2007/46/EC (the ‘Framework Directive’).

Source: European Commission