Five years ago today, US authorities announced that Volkswagen had committed emissions fraud. Dieselgate began. As a journalist, I closely followed the 2016 European Parliament inquiry into the scandal – which concluded that maladministration allowed the cheating to happen – and wrote a book about it. I look at what happened since in a series of blog posts.
The use of defeat devices has been banned in EU law for years. The ban was reaffirmed in a 2007 EU regulation, which also said that member states should make sure there was a “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” sanction on using them (if you really want to look it up, it’s article 13 of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007). Each EU member state was supposed to tell the Commission by 2 January 2009.
None did by that deadline. Many didn’t for many years since that.
Following a parliamentary inquiry into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament concluded that member states “have contravened their obligations to implement the EU law on car emissions under the current system”. The EP said the Commission “did not sufficiently supervise the deadlines” and that this constituted maladministration.
Following Dieselgate, a new regulation was adopted. It also said that member states should put in place penalties for using defeat devices (nerds: it’s article 84 of Regulation 2018/858). The deadline to inform the Commission: 1 September 2020.
Have all member states informed the Commission on time? I asked the spokespersons.
Well, the score is better than in 2009, when 0 member states were on time. This time, 4 (out of 27) member states have informed the Commission on their penalties before the deadline. Kudos to France, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Spain for doing what you promised in EU law.
A Commission spokesperson told me that the Commission was “preparing reminder letters to member states which have not yet made the notifications to the Commission”.