BRUSSELS — European lawmakers on Tuesday endorsed tougher draft regulations for the approval of new cars sold in the European Union.
The rules are aimed at tackling conflicts of interest between national regulators and their domestic manufacturers to avoid a repeat of the Volkswagen Group emissions-cheating scandal.
The European Parliament voted 585 to 77 in favor of the draft bill, which would bolster EU oversight and allow Brussels to fine automakers up to 30,000 euros per vehicle.
The law still needs to be finalized in negotiations between EU lawmakers, the European Commission and member states.
Under the draft law, automakers would no longer directly pay testing agencies in a bid to break their cozy relationships. In future EU nations would have to fund car exhaust testing centers although they may levy fees from car companies to do so.
Each year EU member states would have to test at least 20 percent of the car models placed on the market in their country in the previous year.
The EU would get powers to carry out vehicle spot-checks and levy fines, while national authorities would be able to peer-review each other’s decisions.
The bill calls for fines levied by EU regulators to be used to compensate car owners and boost environmental protection or market surveillance measures.
The proposed rules, however, stopped short of creating an independent market surveillance agency in the style of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency – one of the key recommendations of a European Parliament report into VW Group’s diesel scandal.
Environment groups called it a missed opportunity, saying the scandal had clearly shown the need for stronger oversight.
EU legislators and governments have been accused of caving in to auto industry lobbying efforts and being too slow to adopt reforms.
Following the VW scandal, national investigations revealed on-road nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as high as 15 times the regulatory limits, as well as the use of devices to reduce exhaust treatment.
The use of such devices is illegal under EU law, but car manufacturers have invoked an EU legal loophole that allows them to use software to scale back emissions controls when necessary to protect car engines. All deny breaking the law.