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EC ready to take legal action against Daimler over use of banned refrigerant

The EU says it is has given German carmaker Daimler an ultimatum over its continued use of R134a, which is now banned in new models of cars under the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive.

British Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has obtained an assurance from the relevant EU Commissioner that it has given Daimler a final chance to row back from its stance.

All manufacturers have complied with the Directive except Daimler who have continued to refuse to change from R134a to a lower GWP alternative. Daimler has requested more time so that it can develop air conditioning using carbon dioxide.

St Helens MEP Chris Davies asked the Commission to confirm whether Germany would be allowed to protect Daimler and has been told that the German government could now end up in court over the row.

Mr Davies said, “EU environment laws only work if they are fair to everyone and by letting Daimler off, Germany is being unfair to manufacturers from France to Spain to the Czech Republic.Given the number of cars and car parts manufactured in my own North West England constituency I’m glad the Commission are taking a tough line. We can’t build a stronger economy if some countries won’t play by the rules.”

Among the sanctions open to the EC, is to demand that all non-compliant cars are recalled, to be refilled with a refrigerant that does comply - currently HFO 1234yf is the only one available, but others are likely to emerge.

Mr Davies said that he wanted appropriately severe sanctions to be levied: “A number of Mercedes cars are now being sold that don’t comply with EU law and if the Commission takes action we don’t know what will end up happening to them. A fine for Daimler won’t be enough - there needs to be a recall of all the illegal cars.

EU commmisioner Mr Tajani said in his written reply to Mr Davies: “The Commission launched an investigation on 10 June 2013 with the German authorities requesting specific information on this situation.  Should the investigation reveal non-compliance with the requirements of the Directive, the Commission, in its role as Guardian of the Treaty, may take the necessary action, including where appropriate infringement procedures.”

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