On 26 May Günter Verheugen, who was the EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry from 2004 to 2010, declined the invitation to participate in a hearing of the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (EMIS) scheduled for 14 July. EMIS Chair Kathleen Van Brempt reacted to Mr Verheugen's refusal, while President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz also intervened to support this invitation.
"I find his refusal totally unacceptable: it is the duty of a former Commissioner to remain available to provide a Parliament's inquiry with all the evidence he may have as regards decisions taken during his term in the Commission. It is a question of basic democratic accountability" commented Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, BE), Chair of the EMIS Committee.
On 24 May representatives of all political groups in the Committee strongly and unanimously supported this stance, and gave a mandate to the Chair to ask President Schulz to intervene in support of the invitation. The President wrote a letter to Mr Verheugen on 26 May, but the answer has not been received yet.
"We will keep the pressure up and do our utmost to ensure that the Committee of Inquiry can collect all the necessary evidence to shed a light on the alleged contraventions and maladministration as regards car emission measurements," ensured the Chair Van Brempt.
Other former Commissioners, whose testimonies will be as crucial to the EMIS inquiry as Mr Verheugen’s, have already accepted to take part in the upcoming Committee hearings. They are: Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship from 2010 to 2014; Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for the Environment from 2010 to 2014; and Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for the Environment from 2004 to 2010.
The Committee also mandated the Chair to explore the best ways to cooperate with the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) in charge of the legislative proposal on the motor vehicles type-approval framework, so that the outcome of the EMIS hearings of the type-approval authorities of the Member States can be taken into consideration during the work on this proposal.
"We will ask IMCO not to be too hasty", says Van Brempt. "We are convinced that our hearings of the representatives from US Environmental Protection Agency and various European national type approval authorities and technical services could deliver valuable information and insights that could support the IMCO work on the legislative proposal. It would be a pity if these findings were not taken into account in the legislative process to improve the current system."
The working programme of the EMIS committee is entering its core phase: after a first round of gathering scientific and technical expertise, the Committee will soon hear testimonies from automotive suppliers and car manufacturers, and then proceed to the political level by hearings of current and former EU Commissioners responsible for the matters under investigation.
The next EMIS committee meeting will take place on Thursday, 16 June, from 9.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 18.30 in the European Parliament room ASP 1G-3 in Brussels.
Σημ. : Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.