The new car pollution rules that would soften the limits were rejected this week in the European parliament’s environmental committee.
With the Volkswagen diesel scandal far from being settled, the committee did not agree with the agreement that was supposed to soften the emission tests. The members voted 40 to 9 against, thus making a strong statement for the coming plenary ballot next month that could reject the legislation. Thirteen members of the committee abstained from Monday’s vote – mostly from the European People’s Party, the largest bloc in the EU parliament, their spokesman said. The European Commission reached a compromise deal over new test procedures for cars in October that will allow vehicles to still emit more than two times the agreed pollution threshold. The vote for the agreement was made during a closed-door committee meeting of representatives of the 28 member states and has been fiercely debated since then. “In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, it’s clear we need to urgently revise road emission tests, but the proposed exemptions agreed by EU governments are a disgrace,” a Dutch liberal member of parliament, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, said. “Harmful levels of air pollution would continue, despite the fact that emissions control technologies are available and affordable today.”
If the January vote confirms the environment committee’s opposition to the EU’s emissions testing deal, it could mean a delay of up to two years while the European Commission drafts a new proposal. In defense of the October deal, a representative from the Commission, the EU executive, stressed the text was what members states were prepared to accept. “This text is a compromise, you are right,” Joanna Szychowska told parliamentarians. “We started with far more ambitious levels and the member states indicated that this is not what they could agree upon.”