EU court slaps down Brussels, Paris and Madrid in car pollution spat – POLITICO

The European Union’s Court of Justice on Thursday told Brussels, Paris and Madrid that it had no right to challenge the European Commission’s attempts to set technical standards for vehicle emissions as part of efforts to reduce pollution.

The three cities – which suffer from endemic levels of air pollution – had objected to the commission’s earlier decision that allowed automakers to continue to break NOx pollution limits as they switched to a new testing regime introduced in the wake of the DieselJet scandal.

The tests, known as real driving emissions tests, aim to ensure that cars emit certified levels of emissions on the road, not just in laboratories.

Under pressure from industry, the Commission in 2016 allowed cars to breach those limits in the new testing regime – the so-called matching factor, which car manufacturers say is necessary due to the changing accuracy of portable testers.

Initially, the EU General Court backed the cities in their protest, forcing the Commission to take its proposal on pollution diversion rates and allowable leniency to Parliament and the European Council for discussion.

Talks about this file have since stalled, with industry and large auto nations claiming that the devices used to measure emissions are not yet accurate enough.

The commission, together with Germany and Hungary, appealed against the decision of the General Court.

The European Court of Justice has now overturned the earlier decision, arguing that the case did not directly affect the local authorities involved.

“Since the cities of Paris, Brussels and Madrid are not directly concerned with that regulation, their actions seeking its abolition must be dismissed as inadmissible,” the court said in a statement.

The ruling contains environmental groups calling for stricter standards in the EU’s next legislation dealing with vehicle emissions due to take place in April, which will regulate multiple forms of tailpipe emissions, including nitrogen oxide.

“This decision leaves the pollution license granted to car manufacturers behind closed doors in 2016,” said Fabian Sperka, director of vehicle policy at the NGO Transport and Environment. “Lawmakers must resist any easing of plans for a stricter Euro 7 air pollution standard that will affect air quality in Europe for an entire generation.”


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