The Commission’s draft Regulation proposes a major overhaul of the EU-type approval, i.e. the process applied by national authorities to certify that a car model meets all EU safety, environmental and production requirements prior to being put on the EU market (currently contained in EU Directive 2007/46/EC).

At present, the EU sets the legal framework and national authorities are responsible for the above certification. A model that is certified by one national authority can circulate freely through the EU. As evidenced by recent scandals, this system proved ill equipped to prevent or detect non-compliances.

The Commission’s proposal aims to mitigate this through the following three measures:

  • For cars to be placed on the market (ex ante checks): At present the national authorities assign the task of testing a car model’s compliance to “technical services” (testing facilities) which are remunerated by the car manufacturers. This facilitates conflicts of interests. The proposal has the technical services remunerated by the national authorities instead and submits them to more rigorous service level requirements.
  • For cars already in circulation (ex post checks): Detection of potential non-compliance at an early stage is facilitated by enabling all Member States and the Commission to carry out spot-checks.
  • Greater European oversight: In order to detect defeat devices, the manufacturers must grant the Commission access to car software protocols. The Commission can also sanction underperforming technical services (e.g. revoking their designation) or non-compliant car manufacturers (e.g. initiate recalls or impose fines of up to 30,000 EUR per non-compliant vehicle).