Parliament decides not to veto car emissions test update 

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Euro VI diesel cars emit on average 400% more NOx on the road than during laboratory tests, says Commission ©AP Images/ European Union-EP  

A move to veto a plan to temporarily raise NOx emission limits for diesel cars was rejected by MEPs on Wednesday, after the EU Commission promised a review clause and tabled a long-term legislative proposal to revamp the EU car approval regime.

This followed pressure from Parliament in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.

“Intense negotiations took place with the European Commission and member states after the Environment Committee backed the objection, and the European Commission delivered” said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT). “We now have clear commitments from the European Commission for a review clause with a precise timeframe, in order to bring down the maximum emission values to the levels which were agreed upon by co-legislators. A proposal for a long-term reform of the EU approval regime for cars is also on the table, as requested by Parliament”, he added.

“I therefore welcome the responsible decision from the plenary, which will allow us to go ahead with the RDE procedure in order to bring down NOx emissions from cars which are, at the moment, 400 to 500% above the official limits. We have avoided uncertainties, because industry now has strict but sustainable deadlines to meet. In Europe, we will have better air quality for our citizens without losing jobs”, he concluded.

According to the European Commission, the transitional relaxation of limits is justified by the need to take account of technical uncertainties to do with the use of the new Portable Emission Measurement Systems (PEMS) device, as well as “technical limits to improving the real world emission performance of currently produced diesel cars in the short-term”.

Next steps


The draft motion for a resolution from the Environment Committee was rejected by 323 votes to 317, with 61 abstentions.

Today’s vote clears the way for the European Commission to go ahead with the second RDE package. Two more are to be tabled in order to complete the process.

The Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on the RDE procedure on 23 February.

Background: second RDE package


The second RDE package, approved by the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) – bringing together national experts - on 28 October 2015, seeks to establish quantitative RDE requirements to limit the tailpipe emissions of light passenger and commercial (Euro 6) vehicles.

The proposed requirements are to be introduced in two steps:

  • as a first step, car manufacturers would have to bring down the discrepancy to a “conformity factor” of a maximum of 2.1 (110%) for new models by September 2017 (and for new vehicles by September 2019), and

  • as a second step, this discrepancy would be brought down to a factor of 1.5 (50%), taking account of technical margins of error, by January 2020 for all new models (and by January 2021 for all new cars). A conformity factor for the number of particles (PN) remains to be determined.