BRUSSELS Dec 8 The European Union opened legal
action on Thursday against seven nations including Germany and
Britain for failing to police emissions cheating by carmakers
after the Volkswagen scandal.
Germany, Britain, Spain and Luxembourg stand accused of not
imposing the same kind of penalties VW faced in the
United States over its use of illegal software to mask emissions
of health-harming nitrogen oxide (NOx) on tests.
The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, has
further called Germany and Britain to account for refusing to
share details on breaches of EU emissions laws uncovered in
national investigations this year.
Germany, the Union's leading power and by far its biggest
carmaker, complains that current EU laws are poorly framed.
"National authorities across the EU must ensure that car
manufacturers actually comply with the law," European Industry
Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said in a statement.
Another three countries - the Czech Republic, Lithuania and
Greece - have been spotlighted for not even including within
national legislation the possibility of fining Europe's biggest
industry over potential violations.
Thursday's notice is the first step in what is known as
infringement procedures, allowing the EU to ensure the bloc's 28
nations abide by agreed EU-wide regulations. Member states have
two months to respond.
If they fail to respond to Brussels' concerns, the EU may
take them to the EU court in Luxembourg. National watchdogs
approve new cars and alone have the power to police them -
although they are sold across the bloc.
The European Union institutions have been the target of a
nationalist backlash across the bloc, highlighted by Britain's
vote in June to leave, and are battling to show voters that the
EU has a value and can deliver solutions to their concerns.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has accused
national governments of pandering to eurosceptics by using the
EU as a scapegoat. EU officials say the executive is keen to
show voters that it is national governments, fearful for jobs in
the car industry, which have failed to enforce EU standards.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Alastair