September 24, 2018
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Green MEP: EU member states did not learn from VW scandal

 Green MEP Karima Delli. (File photo: European Parliament)  

  

Green MEP Karima Delli. (File photo: European Parliament)   

The EU has failed in sanctioning car manufacturers following the Volkswagen scandal and this means that they did not learn their lesson, Green MEP Karima Delli told EPA's partner EURACTIV Greece in an interview.

She was also supportive of electric cars but pointed out that they should not be promoted at the expense of other sustainable transport modes such as cycling or public transport.

Karima Delli is a French member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. She spoke to EURACTIV.gr’s Stavros Mavrogenis.

Recently, the Commission and the European Council have been in conflict to amend the Energy Efficiency Directive on the obligation to install electric charging stations in newly built buildings. It is up to the European Parliament now to discuss the issue in November. What is your position?

The point is whether the European Union is keen on meeting its targets in terms of reduction of CO2 emissions or not, and how. In this respect, the Commission proposal for a Directive on Energy Efficiency should rather be supported on the specific matter of charging stations in newly built buildings. Why?

Simply because time is running short! Therefore, we must do everything we can to decarbonise the transport sector, including individual light vehicles. How? Well, obviously with the most cost-effective technology that is at our disposal. While electricity can’t be considered the most suitable and cost-effective technology to be used in aviation, rail or shipping, it can when it comes to cars.

Hence my position is very clear. We as Greens do support the development of e-mobility and are fully aware that the introduction of adequate infrastructure is necessary. This being said, however, e-cars should not be promoted at the expense of other sustainable transport modes such as cycling or public transport. Likewise, electric charging stations should not be only available to cars, but should also be so to electric bikes and scooters.

China, heavily criticised for being the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, is thinking how to go greener at least in transport. At the same time, Europe, a frontrunner in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, is still trying to identify and pick up from the roads the polluters that the German car industry produced. Has the EU learned its lesson from the Dieselgate scandal? What is the way forward?

Even if the situation is much better than before the scandal broke out, it is clear that the EU has not taken all the lessons from the Dieselgate. Following up on the Dieselgate the European Parliament took the initiative to set up a Committee of Inquiry on the Emission measurements in the Automotive Sector (EMIS). This Committee of Inquiry delivered its final report last April, including its conclusions and several recommendations.

The main conclusion that can be drawn from this report is that the European Commission and the member states have been fully aware for the last 10 years that the NOX regulations were not properly enforced. But following up on the Volkswagen scandal, member states failed in sanctioning car manufacturers, which means that they have clearly not taken the lessons from the scandal.

That is the reason why the final report of our committee included several recommendations among which the creation of a European Agency to control the national homologation authorities, the compensation of the wronged consumers by the car manufacturers and the revision of the type of approval directive. All of which have not been taken over so far, except the latter, which is still in discussion at trialogue level.

Due to an unfortunate calendar coincidence, the start of the revision of the type of approval legislation occurred before the publication of EMIS’ final report. The risk that the text gets emptied from its content by the Council in an effort by member states to protect their car industry is real.

However, by rejecting the European agency for market surveillance, the European Parliament missed a chance to set up a genuine European body which could ensure that cheating is no longer possible. By applying EMIS’ recommendations, Europe has everything to gain. It is primarily a question of consistency to protect Europeans from air pollution, but also an opportunity to improve the image of our automotive industry, which employs millions of workers all over the continent.

Do you support the Commission’s proposal on the Mobility Package (Europe on the Move), which was presented on 31 May, for a 75% exemption of zero-emission vehicles from toll payment? What other incentives would you like to see implemented?

Yes, I do, as it is an ambitious tool to implement the “polluter pays” principle. If one vehicle does not pollute, then it should not pay for the external cost it is not responsible for, but only for the use of the road.

Besides this exemption, why not include the possibility of differentiation of charging on the basis of Euro standards, moving to differentiation based on Real Driving Emissions (since we know that these standards don’t match the emissions)? This would be a great incentive for consumers to switch from their old diesel cars to cleaner vehicles.

The European car industry recently reacted strongly to the Chinese plans to set goals for electric and hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of Chinese auto sales by 2025. India has also similar ambitions. Would you like to see the EU in the near future to adopt Chinese-style quotas for zero carbon vehicles?

In a couple of months, the UK and France have already set similar goals: these main car producers in Europe will not produce any fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. Even Germany is thinking about it! This is a giant step that paves the way for a common ambition at the European level. Now that the reign of diesel comes to an end, European member states have no other choice but to take the lead in terms of electric and hybrid cars production. If not, then our whole car industry might be in jeopardy: this would be a terrible mistake, given the number of jobs at stake…

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