Richter Says EU Emissions Regulations Don’t Go Far Enough – Courthouse News Service
A trio of European capitals brought the lawsuit to demand stricter regulations on car exhaust fumes.
LUXEMBOURG (CN) – New European emission limits for vehicles set after the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal in 2015 are not restrictive enough, an adviser to the EU Supreme Court said on Thursday.
Advocate General Michal Bobek has sided with Paris, Madrid and Brussels, arguing that the Court of Justice of the European Union should uphold a ruling in which he found that the 2016 pollutant legislation was too lax.
“None of the appellants or interveners has convincingly argued that the General Court misunderstood the facts in principle or misunderstood the evidence presented by the parties. On the contrary, the court reached a conclusion that is not only possible, but also seems to find evidence in various relevant official documents referred to by the parties, ”wrote the Czech judge in his non-binding opinion.
The three capitals filed a complaint with the Luxembourg court shortly after the new pollutant regulations, which restricted nitrogen oxide emissions from cars, came into force. The new regulations were created in response to Volkswagen’s admission in 2015 that they artificially reduced emissions during the tests.
In 2018, the cities won the first round before the court, the second highest court in the EU, in which the judges found that the block leaders had set emission limits that were too high. The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, appealed to the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU, together with Germany and Hungary.
The so-called Dieselgate scandal had focused on emissions from cars in laboratory environments, and the EU wanted to ensure that cars were subject to strict emission standards in real driving conditions. In response, the Commission introduced the real-world emissions test, which requires new car manufacturers to demonstrate that vehicle emissions are below a certain threshold during normal use.
First, the Commission set the limit at 80 milligrams of nitrogen oxide per kilometer, the so-called Euro 6 level of the European Parliament. But under pressure from the auto industry, this upper limit was raised to 168 milligrams per kilometer by 2020.
Bobek agreed with the lower court that the commission was not empowered to deviate from the legislature.
“The Commission has changed the legal situation by expressly tolerating emissions above the limit values set by the EU legislator, with these specific limit values being an essential element that the Commission could not effectively change through mere implementing legislation,” he stated.
National governments have lost a number of cases of nitrogen oxide emissions before the Court of Justice in recent years. Hungary, Italy, France and Germany all fail to meet the standards set by the EU.
Car and truck emissions are the main sources of nitrogen dioxide. The pollutant can cause respiratory diseases, including lung diseases and cancer, as well as harm the environment. According to the Commission, around 400,000 die prematurely every year in the EU as a result of pollution.
The court will give a final ruling on the matter in the coming months.