The EU must rein in greediness in the automotive industry after Dieselgate – the emissions cheating scandal that broke in 2015 – MEPs urged in a debate at the European Parliament this afternoon.

Last April, the Parliament approved recommendations to the Commission and member states for tightened regulations and greater oversight of car emissions levels. However, GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst considered the changes to be implemented only cosmetic:

“I come from a region in eastern Germany where 40 percent of all industry is related to the automotive sector. A similar thing can be said of many other regions in Europe and across the world. 800,000 people are directly employed by the automotive sector in Germany and no matter where you look there is fear that workers will have to pay the price for the stubbornness of industry executives.”

“Two years after the scandal broke, it is clear that only cosmetic changes will be put in place despite proof that car exhaust emissions have damaged health and the environment, the court cases brought against VW and other car companies in the US and elsewhere, the threats of vehicle bans and the results of the inquiry committees in Brussels and Berlin.”

Ernst criticised those insisting on investment in new forms of diesel technologies:

“Anyone who is blinded by ‘clean diesel’ and invests millions of euros in the technology is not only deluded but is mounting an attack against the health of citizens and the environment. Clean diesel is as clean as the so-called clean coal technology, an illusion.”

“That is why it is important that the Commission does not yield to pressure from the German government and takes a stand to oppose the production of diesel engines. We need more stringent rules for emissions, a strict approach to cartel agreements, which are nothing more than organised crime,” the German MEP added.  

For Finnish MEP Merja Kyllönen more needs to be done to mitigate the fallout from the scandal, especially with respect to workers’ rights and consumers:

“Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests for diesel cars are a step in the right direction but there are still unanswered questions such as the suitability of the type-approved cars in European roads and the robustness of market surveillance in place.”

“With the debate about a ban on diesel cars moving forward, we must consider its implications for employment and support consumers who own diesel cars and had planned to use them for years to come,” she said.  

German MEP Stefan Eck singled out for blame overt protectionist moves from the German government:

“The Dieselgate scandal is a good example of the consequences of clientelism: fraud against tens of millions of car buyers, worsening of health for EU citizens, massive damage to the environment and loss of confidence in the automotive industry and on politicians.”  

“The role of the German government – which is known for its pro-lobby interference in Brussels – can only be seen as a form of complicity and a complete political failure,” Eck said, adding that “the fact that we cannot agree on an adequate compensation for consumers is proof that the European automotive policy is dictated by the German Chancellery.”  

“Even German authorities agree that the proposed software update in diesel cars is fake. Politicians in Brussels and Berlin are the ones needing an intellectual update, as they are jointly responsible for what happened,” the German MEP concluded.  

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