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EU proposes stricter emissions testing after VW scandal

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New framework would give EU more power over the testing process

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The European Union has announced plans for a "major overhaul" of car emissions testing following the Volkswagen scandal, with new laws that would give it more control across the EU. The newly-proposed framework aims to ensure that vehicles meet standards by making testing centers more independent. Previously, centers competed for work from manufacturers who paid them directly. Under the new protocol, fees would instead be collected by EU member states and disbursed. This, says EU lawmakers, will help "avoid financial links" between manufacturers and the companies responsible for approving their cars for the market.

Real driving tests would see cars evaluated on the road

The plan would complement a separate proposal to introduce "real driving emissions" tests — tests that occur when the car is on the road, not in a center. Voting on the proposal is set to go ahead next week, although the European Parliament's environmental committee has recommended that lawmakers reject the bill for being too easy on manufacturers. The law originally allowed a maximum overshoot of 60 percent of the EU emissions limit, but this was later raised to 110 percent. (Tests suggest on-road emissions are actually 400 to 500 percent higher than the limit.) The US Environmental Protection Agency began expanding its own real world emissions testing last year.

The newly-proposed EU testing framework would also include more surveillance of cars already on the market, including spot-checks "to detect non-compliance at an early stage." To enforce standards, the EU would have powers to "suspend, restrict, or withdraw" licenses given to car testing centers, and the ability to fine manufacturers as much as €30,000 per vehicle if they're caught breaking emissions standards. The new framework still requires approval from EU member states and the European Parliament if it is to become law.

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