European Commission

Weekly meeting | 27/01/2016

Tighter rules for cars; Pillar of Social Rights; Schengen, Bulgaria and Romania

The Commission has tabled legislative proposals to ensure car manufacturers comply with all EU safety, environmental and production requirements. It held a debate on a Pillar of Social Rights, discussed a draft Schengen evaluation report and assessed progress by Bulgaria and Romania.

The European Commission today proposed a major overhaul of the so-called EU type approval framework for motor vehicles. These proposals will make vehicle testing more independent and increase surveillance of cars already in circulation.

Under current rules, national authorities are solely responsible for certifying that a vehicle meets all requirements to be placed on the market and for policing manufacturers' compliance with EU law. The proposal for a Regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles   adopted by the Commission will introduce greater European oversight that will strengthen the system as a whole and will complement efforts to introduce more robust emissions testing (Real Driving Emissions testing).

The Regulation maintains the principle of mutual recognition, which is at the core of the EU Single Market, but seeks to correct the flaws in the system.

Concretely, the Commission proposed to modify the remuneration system to avoid financial links between technical services and manufacturers, which could lead to conflicts of interest and compromise the independence of testing. It is also foreseen that Member States and the Commission will carry out spot-checks on vehicles already on the market. This will make it possible to detect non-compliance at an early stage, and ensure that immediate and robust remedial action is taken against vehicles that are found to be non-compliant and/or to present a serious safety risk or harm to the environment. Moreover, the Commission will have the power to suspend, restrict or withdraw the designation of technical services that are underperforming and too lax in applying the rules.

The College of Commissioners also held a first orientation debate on establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights, following up on President Juncker's 2015 State of the Union address on 9 September 2015 and in line with the 2016 Commission Work Programme. The Pillar should be a self-standing reference point, which would serve as a framework to screen employment and social performance in the light of changing work patterns and societies and, more generally, as a compass for the renewed process of convergence within the euro area. The College will come back to this initiative soon. A concrete outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights will be presented in the coming weeks and will be followed by a broad consultation to identify action at the appropriate level. The consultation should serve to refine the text of the Pillar and to identify the right areas of action – be it at the EU level or at the national level. Social partners will play a central role in this process, together with actors from civil society.

The College of Commissioners discussed a draft Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece. The report concludes that Greece is seriously neglecting its obligations and that there are serious deficiencies in the carrying out of external border controls that must be overcome and dealt with by the Greek authorities. The Commission acknowledges that Greek authorities started taking a number of steps to address these shortcomings since November but more needs to be done. The Commission will continue supporting Greece and other countries in dealing with border management.

The Commission finally issued today its latest Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) Reports on steps taken by Bulgaria and Romania on judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria on organised crime. When these two Member States joined the EU, the Commission undertook to assist them in remedying shortcomings in these areas and to regularly verify progress against specific benchmarks. The reports set out where progress has been made in the past twelve months, and where further steps are needed.

Finally, the European Commission has imposed fines of € 137 789 000 on Melco (Mitsubishi Electric) and Hitachi for participating in a cartel for alternators and starters with another firm, Denso, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Denso was not fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case. For more than five years, the three Japanese car parts manufacturers coordinated prices and allocated customers or projects with regards to alternators and starters, two important components of car engines.

After discussion in the weekly College meeting, the Commission adopted on 28 January by written procedure an Anti Tax Avoidance Package to hamper aggressive tax planning, boost transparency between Member States and ensure fairer competition for all businesses in the Single Market. 

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