New rules for safer and cleaner cars

A new EU regulation aims to create more rigorous checks on the automotive sectors with stricter requirements for emission tests and heavy fines for cheating companies.

On 19 April MEPs voted in favour of rules reinforcing the procedures for the type-approval of motor vehicles and enabling the European Commission to check the work of EU countries regarding this and impose sanctions on manufacturers breaking the rules. It is an update of the existing directive from 2007, making the testing and approval of new cars more transparent.

How cars are tested

Every new vehicle must have a certificate of conformity to an approved type before it can be sold in the EU. This is why new types of vehicles are tested by national authorities on about 70 different criteria, ranging from safety to emissions.

What the new rules will change

The new rules will improve the transparency of the procedures, making it easier to monitor them and impose penalties if they are not being followed correctly. For example, to ensure testing centres are independent, EU countries will collect testing fees from manufacturers so that they are not in touch with the centres.

National market authorities will also have to conduct spot checks on cars already in circulation to ensure vehicles do indeed meet the standards that have been declared and tested. In addition the European Commission will have the power to impose fines of up to €30,000 per vehicle on manufacturers breaking the rules.

UK ECR member Daniel Dalton, the MEP responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, said: “This proposal should give consumers the confidence that the cars they buy are exactly what they say they are.”

Parliament’s role

In negotiations with the Council, which will also need to approve the new rules, Parliament was able to secure strict controls on emissions. One fifth of all checks on newly-registered cars must be related to vehicle emissions.

Parliament negotiations were also able to successfully argue for thorough market checks: one out of 40,000 vehicles registered the previous year must be checked. They were also able to make sure the Commission has the ability to assess the measures adopted and implemented by EU countries.

Emissions scandal

The new regulation is in response to the emission scandals in 2015 when car manufacturers such as Volkswagen were discovered tampering with emissions test. The scandal led the Parliament to set up a special enquiry committee to investigate what had happened and how it can prevented happening again in future.

Automotive industry in the EU

The automotive industry is a key sector of the European economy, producing 2.5 million jobs and accounting for 6.4% of the EU’s gross domestic product.

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