The European Commission has launched legal action against Italy over allegations of emission-test cheating by Fiat Chrysler.
It is demanding Rome formally respond to its concerns that the carmaker has not justified the necessity for so-called defeat devices used to modulate emissions during tests on some of its diesel powered Fiat and Jeep vehicles.
Italy’s Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said the authorities there have not found any illegal devices in use but he failed to get the Commission’s legal action postponed.
Rome has two months to respond to the Commission’s request and may be eventually taken to the European Court of Justice if the answer is found to be unconvincing.
The original complaint came from Germany which along with the Czech Republic, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Spain and Britain has been accused of failing to police the car industry adequately after the VW ‘dieselgate’ scandal.
Frustrated with ‘collusion’
EU officials have become increasingly frustrated with what they see as governments colluding with the powerful car industry and the legal move is the biggest stick the European Commission has available to force nations to clamp down on diesel cars that spew out polluting nitrogen oxide (NOx).
Delrio, however, said the material Italy had sent to the Commission during the mediation process showed that the vehicles’ approval process was correctly performed.
Under the current system, which the Commission is trying to overhaul, national regulators approve new cars and alone have the power to police manufacturers. But once a vehicle is approved in one country, it can be sold throughout the EU.
Under new draft rules set to be agreed later this month, the Commission will be given the power to fine car manufacturers who cheat the system directly, up to 30,000 euros per affected vehicle.
Fiat Chrysler has always strongly denied cheating on diesel emissions tests.