They run the show.
Brussels, Europe: A more wretched hive of corporate lobbyists, law firms, and money-grubbing apparatchiks you will struggle to find. The latest example of lobbying influence is one of the most egregious yet, since it will affect the quality (or lack thereof) of the air breathed by millions of Europeans for the foreseeable future.
From September 1, 2017, new car models will have to pass a new emissions test before they can be put on the market. According to many headlines, the new tests are much tougher than the previous ones. ‘EU Car Emissions:Tough New Tests Backed,’ proclaims the BBC. ‘EU Parliament Takes ToughStance on Emissions Tests,’ thunders the trade journal Automotive News Europe.
The word ‘tough’ normally evokes the idea of strength or resolution, something that is not easily broken or made weaker or defeated. Not so in this case. In the EU’s ‘tough’ new tests, car models sold after September 2017 will not be allowed to ‘exceed nitrogen oxide emission levels by more than twice the technical limit,’ reports the BBC.
Put another way, cars will be allowed to spew out twice the legal limit of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – or as a matter of fact, more than that (110%) – until 2020, and by up to 50% more from then on. The EU has just dramatically raised the emission limit instead of lowering it. So much for toughness.
The really funny thing (in the classic ‘if you don’t laugh, you have to cry’ sort of way) is that the main purpose of the new rules is to regain public trust and confidence in Europe’s car industry.
‘Public trust and consumer protection are at stake,’ the European Union’s industrial policy chief, Elzbieta Bienkowska, told a business audience in Brussels on Oct. 22. ‘The only way in which we will restore public confidence is by acting quickly, collectively, coherently, and effectively. National authorities must play their role and work as active partners.’
This post was published at Wolf Street on October 31, 2015.