During the plenary session on January 18th 2016, the European Parliament held a debate on the European Commission’s draft regulation on Real Driving Emissions (“RDE”). Its Environment Committee had opposed the adoption thereof in December 2015, mainly because the draft proposed to raise the maximum car nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission limits from 80 mg/km to 168 mg/km.

During the debate, the proponents of the draft emphasized that this increase is inevitable but still ambitious, considering the current average level of 400 mg/km. However, the opponents see an unmerited leniency granted to the automotive industry. The European Parliament is now scheduled to vote on the matter during the plenary session in the beginning of February 2016.

In case the European Parliament decides to veto the draft, this will imply a delay by several months. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert expressed his concern in this regard: “Any delay to this legislation would leave little time to make the necessary changes and ultimately would just push back the benefits for the environment. Our industry needs the RDE test to restore the confidence of consumers and legislators in the environmental performance of new vehicles.”

In parallel, the Committee of Inquiry into emission measurements in the automotive sector set up by the European Parliament on 17 December 2015 will investigate the “alleged failure” of both the European Commission and the Member States to properly follow up on the emission standard (testing) contributing to the current predicament. The aim is to use the Committee’s report to implement changes (e.g. a more centralized oversight) to prevent such failures in the future.