A secretive EU deal to weaken emission limits for diesel car was illegal, according to a study by environmental law firm ClientEarth and an informal paper provided by the European Parliament's legal service.
Under a technical agreement reached by the European Commission and governments including the UK at a closed meeting in October, diesel cars would be permitted to emit double the current limit of deadly nitrogen oxide (NOx) until 2019 in order to help them meet stricter tests that reflect real-world emissions. Both legal opinions concluded that a political decision was taken to give carmakers more leeway than was necessary, going beyond the scope of technical adjustments permitted under EU law. Such a major change to the original legislation should have required the approval of the European Parliament and a proper public debate.
MEPs are set to vote on whether to veto the current proposal in early February and are debating the issue in Strasbourg tomorrow (Tuesday 18th January).
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder commented:
"The agreement by governments including the UK to weaken diesel pollution limits was both legally and morally unjustifiable.
"This was a political decision with huge implications for public health, so it should been debated publicly and not stitched up behind closed doors.
"MEPs must veto this shameful stitch-up and demand stricter pollution limits.
"Accepting weaker limits would mean stifling the transition to cleaner cars and prolonging deadly air pollution in our cities."