DIESEL SCANDAL Berlin Rejects EU Emissions Test Reforms

The German government has rejected an effort by Brussels to strengthen oversight of emissions tests in the wake of the VW diesel scandal. Critics accuse it of shielding the automobile industry from tougher oversight.

German authorities have long been accused of not pursing Volkswagen aggressively enough over the diesel emissions scandal, leaving the dirty work largely up to regulators in the United States.

Berlin doesn’t exactly have a strong incentive to slap Volkswagen with massive fines. The automaker, after all, is Germany’s largest employer, and the federal state of Lower Saxony owns a 20-percent stake in the company.

But the European Commission has intervened and proposed a series of reforms to hold Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority and other national regulators’ feet to the fire.

The German government, however, has rejected the central building block of the system proposed by Brussels to check national regulators.

Dobrindt continues to lend a protecting hand to the autombile industry by heading off efforts to create system of European sanctions. Stephan Kühn, Green Party

In response to a Green Party request, which Handelsblatt has obtained, the government said that it does not support the European Union’s proposed peer-review system.

Under this system, the national regulators of EU member states would inspect each others regulatory systems to ensure they were effectively implementing emissions standards.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commissioner for the single market, also wants to make the national regulators more independent of the automobile industry. Under the current system, the automakers pay for the emissions tests. Ms. Bienkowska wants the auto industry to pay into an independent fund that would finance the tests.

Stephan Kühn, the transportation expert for the Green Party, has accused Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, of blocking reforms at the EU level.

“Dobrindt continues to lend a protecting hand to the autombile industry by heading off efforts to create system of European sanctions, to make the financing of the regulators more independent, and to create reciprocal control of the regulators,” Mr. Kühn told Handelsblatt.

EU member states have been trying to find a common position on the commission’s proposal for months. The European Parliament, for its part, on Tuesday backed the commission’s proposal and even went beyond them in certain instances.

Parliamentarians, for example, proposed paying full damages to drivers if the certification of their automobile is pulled by regulators due to emissions problems.


Till Hoppe reports on politics for Handelsblatt, with a focus on defense, domestic policy and cyber issues. To contact the author: [email protected]