EU officials knew about VW cheating two years ago

Europe was aware of ‘significant discrepancy’ between test and real emissions, but did not act

The European commission was informed of "widespread concerns" over emissions test versus real world discrepancy as early as two years ago.
The European commission was informed of "widespread concerns" over emissions test versus real world discrepancy as early as two years ago.

European countries knew of “widespread concern” that a “significant discrepancy” between emissions from cars in the real world and emissions during testing was the “primary reason” that air quality was not improving as early as two years ago, according to The Financial Times.

In February 2013, the then EU environmental commissioner, Janez Potocnik, wrote to Antonio Tajani, then industry commissioner, warning that several EU countries believed disparity between emissions in the real world and emissions during testing was responsible for the that air quality not improving.

In his 2013 letter, Potocnik wrote: “There are widespread concerns that performance [of cars] has been tailored tightly to compliance with the test cycle in disregard of the dramatic increase in emissions outside that narrow scope.

“My services and I are often put in an uncomfortable position when defending the perceived lack of action by the commission and member states in addressing the obvious failure to ensure this.”

Ultimately, the issue only became an international scandal this year after US officials found Volkswagen (VW) had fitted so-called ‘defeat’ software designed to fool emissions tests on millions of its diesel cars.

Potocnik stressed that cars were meant to comply with emission limits “in normal driving conditions” and suggested that Tajani should threaten to require carmakers to take “remedial action” to address the situation or face being prevented from selling particular models on emissions grounds.

Tajani, now a VP of the European Parliament, told the FT that he had tried to introduce “real driving emissions” tests.

“I have not refrained from ensuring that the issue of real drive emissions is dealt with and followed up appropriately, in close co-operation with my fellow commissioner Potocnik and our respective services,” he said.

Potocnik is no longer a commissioner, but after news of the VW scandal broke, he wrote on Twitter: “Do we really always need scandals and disasters to do the right thing?”

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