New EU regulation introduced to ban emissions 'cheat' devices from car manufacturers

The EU Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles, adopted in May 2018, comes into effect today. The new EU regulation overhauls and improves the quality and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing and increases checks of cars already on the EU market.

Type approval is the process for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for rigorous checking of manufacturers' ongoing compliance with EU law, including emissions limits as laid out in separate regulation.

This reform follows on from the European Commission's 'Europe on the Move' publication. This committed the EU to improve air quality and CO2 standards, and emission testing for cars or the support for alternative fuels and battery production. They are also designed to protect EU manufacturers by dictating higher standards than other jurisdictions. 

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the EU's Internal Market, said: 

Europeans rightly expect to drive the cleanest and safest cars. That presupposes the strictest controls of cars placed on the market and circulating on our roads. It also requires real enforcement and oversight at European level: that is why from now on the Commission will be able to carry out checks on cars, trigger EU-wide recalls, and impose fines of up to €30,000 per car when the law is broken. These reforms complement our work on cleaner and safer mobility, which in the challenging context of the crisis require even more future-oriented investments in infrastructure and innovation. Our efforts to restore consumer confidence, strengthen the Single Market and support the long-term viability and global competitiveness of Europe's car industry go hand in hand.

The new rules mean that services performing testing and inspections of new car models will be independently audited on the basis of stringent criteria to obtain and keep their designation by Member States. National type approval authorities are now subject to peer reviews to ensure that the relevant rules are implemented and enforced rigorously across the EU.

The new framework also improves checks on the vehicles that are already circulating on the market and for sale at the dealerships. From now on, Member States are required to regularly test a minimum number of cars and are now able to take safeguard measures against non-compliant vehicles on their territory without waiting for the authority that issued the type approval to take action.

In addition, the European Commission is now able to carry out compliance and conformity checks on vehicles in laboratories or on the road. In cases where manufacturers are in breach of type-approval legislation (e.g. defeat devices or fake declarations), they can order EU-wide recalls and impose sanctions on those manufacturers of up to €30 000 per car. This is in response to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, and the lack of powers held by the EU to sanction the company.