By on September 1, 2020

Updated rules have granted the European Commission the ability to not only check cars for emissions compliance, but also issue recalls for those found in violation.

Previously, recalls were required to be issued by the EU member nations that initially certified the vehicles. But the European Commission claims this tactic has allowed automakers to easily circumvent regulatory mandates, making large-scale recalls slower to progress for almost a decade. Following Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal in 2015, the EU ramped up efforts to consolidate regulatory powers after the United States was the one that initially busted the German automaker for cheating during pollution tests.

The European Commission will now be able to enact recalls on its own authority and fine automakers up to 30,000 euros ($35,725 USD) per vehicle. Those in broad opposition of giving Brussels additional authority have criticized the changes, while those supportive of the EU claim it will be able to deliver environmental justice more swiftly than individual nations.

According to Reuters, the European Commission will also be able revoke roadworthiness certifications. That’s likely to make the automotive industry more vulnerable to compensation claims from European customers purchasing vehicles that are later taken off the road. Rather than taking several smaller hits over a longer timeline, European manufacturers would now be subjected to one colossal lump sum. The Commission has already invested roughly €7 million into two testing labs for conducting vehicle tests.

However, individual nations will still be required to conduct tests on models already in circulation to ensure they’re eligible for continued certification. In fact, the EU suggested this will be an important aspect of uncovering vehicles utilizing defeat devices that are primarily aimed at beating preliminary emissions assessments (typically conducted in labs) but are less adept at fooling on-road appraisals.

[Images: Quinta/Shutterstock]

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20 Comments on “European Union Empowered to Recall Vehicles Over Emission Violations...”

  • avatar

    Has any country ever withdrawn from the EU?

    (And why do they call it Brussels, if there is only one?)

  • avatar

    About time the EU woke up and acted like the US, which has but one EPA and held VW’s tootsies to the fire till it squeaked and confessed. There seems to be no way to get the same deal for ripped-off customers in the EU by comparison to the US bureaucracy’s rapid response which quickly put the kibosh on Piech’s maneuvering and thumbing his nose at individual governments. The Type Certification nonsense in the EU, where private labs in one country are allowed to certify a vehicle for the whole enchilada is silly. Nothing like a greased palm or three to a Bosnian test lab and as they say, Bob’s yer uncle.

    Americans wander around in a daze thinking they have no bureaucracy and dripping sarcasm on everyone else for having government, but do in fact have decent consumer laws like the vehicle lemon law that nobody else has. So in this case, sure, let the EU emulate the US for the benefit of the customer. OTOH, on public health matters and actually being organized to battle the challenge of escaping from a wet paper bag, the US cruises along like it’s 1918, telling itself it has great health care. A ha ha ha. Right.

    @Toolguy. Ever hear of Brexit? The Brits have basically signed their own commercial death warrant by leaving a bigger trading bloc. Not that Boris the Supreme Bozo gives a damn about such sordid things as working people trying to scratch out a living. They stupidly voted for him in yet another example of being suckered by the right and their promises of sugar plum fairies. Boris is one of your intellectual pantywaists beholden to the upper crust who own the place. Educated in all the “right” schools. As they say over there — he knows which side his bread is buttered on. Too bad about the serfs. Let them eat cake.

    • 0 avatar

      Never going to happen. Unlike the US, which has traditionally had a sense of a united American identity, no such thing exists for the EU. There’s also no impetus to develop this identity, which would involve the eradication and replacement of centuries of language, culture, and ethnicity with a vacuum-formed non-entity.

      Example: the various Euro notes do not feature architectural edifices that actually exist. Source:

      Despite having a purple passport with the words ‘European Union’ on it, I see a great many problems with the EU as it stands now and it does not represent what I had hoped for it at its absorption into the EC in 1992. Having emigrated to the US in part to escape some of those shortcomings, I really wish that people in this part of the world would stop trying to turn it into a clone of that mess.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m gonna go out on a limb here and argue that the US “sense of identity” is overstated and oversold. Ask someone to tell you who they are, and they’ll rattle off a bunch of personal characteristics (ethnicity, religion, race, state, region, sports team, vehicle preference, political party, hobbies, you name it) before any truly unifying national identity. Half they time, when someone pointedly includes themselves in the descriptor “American” these days, it’s because they’re trying to implicitly *exclude* other people from it. Hell, big states have their own secession movements (Texit, Calexit, etc.). Like Europeans, we might think our local politicians and bureaucrats are okay but the ones at the very highest level must be corrupt and lazy — not based on any particular evidence so much as that they’re not near to us, don’t feel as readily accountable, and honestly we don’t really understand what they do. People are myopic and tribal; that’s human nature. That doesn’t mean that any structure that unites city-states, provinces, countries, etc. is doomed; indeed, there have been some pretty durable empires throughout history. Just my $0.02.

    • 0 avatar

      Karonetwentyc is correct. There is no such thing as a ‘European identity’ comparable to what you have in the United States.

      I consider myself a German first, and a European second. And I do not want to be known as a bland European citizen, but as a German citizen who comes from a culture of vast scientific, cultural and technical achievements which I can relate to and be proud of.

      The sooner the EU dies, the better. Their increasingly dictatorial leadership style and useless bureaucracy are a burden on all member states, especially the ones keeping this organization alive.

      • 0 avatar

        Thomas: this is exactly how I view myself – Irish first, then European, and for many of the same reasons as the views that you hold regarding Germany and your citizenship.

        While there certainly are aspects of the EU that I believe have been (and are) beneficial, as an organisation it’s time to start cutting it back and being realistic about its role in the member states that compose it.

        If that means it dies, so be it. I just hope it wouldn’t be replaced by something worse.

    • 0 avatar

      Piëch was already gone when this all happened, it was Winterkorn’s doing.

      That said, the difference in treatment between US VW customers, who were fully compensated, vs. EU customers told to pound sand, was clearly the motivation for this change.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget that Boris Johnson swore to the British that belonging to the EU was costing them 350 million pounds a week which would be spent on their ailing National Health Service. That’s about $20 Billion per year, or now what Britain will probably lose in a month post Brexit.
    P.S. Boris, don’t ask the U.S. for a handout, we have our own problems.

    • 0 avatar

      Who told you that NHS is ailing? According to it is the best thing what happened to Brits in entire course of their history. It was one of the reasons why ungrateful Brits kicked Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill out of office after he defeated Germans.

      • 0 avatar

        When someone has no experience of the alternatives because there simply aren’t any realistic ones for the majority of people, then that lone option will likely seem absolutely fantastic.

        Speaking from personal experience, the NHS is, was, and always has been a complete and utter mess.

        • 0 avatar

          But NHS is absolutely free. Imagine you go emergency room in US -prepare several grands plus for transport (if you called 911) another say $4K. In England it is all free of charge. No one is asking you for credit card whie you hanging for your life. I lived in Soviet Union. Everything was free.

          • 0 avatar

            To say that the NHS is absolutely free is entirely incorrect.

            Some NHS services and treatments are provided without billing, but not all. I’ve received the bills for both, so can confirm that this is the case.

            There are any number of procedures, consultations, etc. that are not covered by the NHS, so those have to be covered out-of-pocket.

            Additionally, the NHS is not something that magically happens without funding. Taxpayers pay – rather significantly – into general funds, which are then doled back out to the NHS. Approximately 20% of tax revenue is sent back into the NHS, and that’s still a shortfall relative to its operating costs.

            Speaking of taxes, if anyone has ever wondered why things like a litre of petrol cost around £1.20 (approx. US$1.60/litre at today’s rates, or around US$6.08/US gallon) in the UK, the NHS (and every other social welfare programme) needs money from motorists, too.

            Let’s not forget VAT. For those not familiar with VAT, it’s not a sales tax – it’s a tax on goods and services. Things falling into the ‘services’ category include labour, which are untaxed in the US. The current rate is 20%.

            Finally, there’s a reason why the NHS has been described as ‘die-while-you-wait’ healthcare: waiting lists to receive treatment are ridiculously long. There’s also a shortage of doctors in the UK right now, because nobody wants to practice medicine in a country where punitive taxation aimed specifically at medical professionals makes remaining in practice economically unfeasible.

            How the Soviet Union may nor may not have handled this really doesn’t matter; it no longer exists, and, frankly isn’t terribly relevant to the situation the NHS is in now except as an historical warning.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Writing form another Commonwealth nation whose universal health system was based on the one in the UK, there are always going to be some who are against universal public health for political or philosophical reasons.

            The reports we have read are that the NHS began to suffer when the government (Thatcher) allowed private clinics to thrive. This creates a two-tier system, which never favours those in the lower income brackets.

            In Ontario we have a employers health tax, employers pay a percentage of their payroll towards healthcare.

            Canada also has a version of VAT called either GST or HST depending upon the province and that is charged on all transactions (goods or services). This tax is also useful in tracking the ‘underground economy’.

            What is not debatable is that universal healthcare systems see a marked increase in overall health/wellness outcomes for the nation’s population.

            The USA is the only 1st world nation lacking such a system And therefore the USA is falling behind in life expectancy, and infant/childbirth mortality rates, while increasing the percentage of its population with long term health issues.

            Some even believe that the lack of universal healthcare is a reason why there are so many COVID related infections and deaths in the USA.

          • 0 avatar

            Arthur Dailey, ” there are always going to be some who are against universal public health “…

            … after reading your post I felt compelled to tell you that MY brother-in-law, married to the older of my two sisters, is a natural-born Canadian citizen, and…..

            ….HE prefers the US health system over anything Canada has to offer. He’s been there, done that.

            Less drama with the US system, less wait time, far greater selection of doctors and specialists, and when he needs medical checkups or attention, he actually travels from Vancouver, BC, to the Seattle/Poulsbo/Desmoines area to see their doctor.

            I think you missed the boat with your conclusion, and fell into the water with your observation. You’re in over your head and sinking.

            People from all over the world travel to the Mayo Clinic (in Scottsdale and elsewhere) for the better treatment and surgeries.

            Hell, the Mayo and other centers will even treat a patient if they do not have insurance coverage.

            Some people, given up for dead in Canada, undergo treatment at US medical centers and live many, many more decades after that. My brother-in-law was one of those given up for dead. But he is still alive and well today.

            I hope you or yours will NEVER need real-serious medical services because you can’t get that under a Universal Health Care system, anywhere.

            Under such a system it is less expensive to let a patient die than to fork over $50-$60K for surgery and/or treatments.

  • avatar

    It is about time that the EU[SSR] collapses. In order for that to happen, Germany needs to collapse. Merkel is doing a good job in that regard.

    • 0 avatar

      As much as I’d prefer to see that not happen to Germany, you’re right – without at least the economic pullout of Germany and France from the EU, it’s going to continue on its path of essentially reconstructing the geopolitical structure of the former SSRs.

      This is not at all how I envisaged the EU turning out when I voted in favor of joining the EU in the Irish Maastricht Referendum.

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