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EC to take Germany to court over Mobile AC Directive

Industry hopes that EU Court of Justice will make appropriate punishment for Daimler decision to continue with R134a in defiance of European climate law

The European Commission has announced that it will to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to apply the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive with regard to Daimler.

The ongoing case in which Daimler refused to switch away from R134a for three years, citing safety concerns, has finally been adjudged to be a clear enough infringement of European rules to require the German government to face the European Court of Justice.

The carmaker announced in October that it would introduce CO2 into new cars from next year and would install R1234yf as a ‘transitional measure.’

But the German government will have to face the Court of Justice for the three years’ of resistance from its carmaker to the Directive. The decision, in the week of the Paris Climate talks, is being viewed as an indication that the EC will not allow resistance to one of its flagship pieces of climate legislation.

The Commission said in a statement: “National type-approval authorities have the obligation to certify that a vehicle meets all EU safety, environmental and production requirements – including those on mobile air-conditioning systems – before authorising it to be placed on the EU market.

This is regulated by Directive 2007/46/EC, which sets out the general framework for car type-approvals and foresees a range of remedial actions including the possibility to impose penalties.”

“The Commission alleges that Germany has infringed EU law by allowing the car manufacturer Daimler AG to place automobile vehicles on the EU market that were not in conformity with the MAC Directive, and failing to take remedial action.”

It went on to note that Daimler continued to dispute the conclusions of both the automobile industry and the Commission’s scientists. The Commission said: “Daimler AG invoked safety concerns regarding the use of refrigerants prescribed by the MAC Directive. These concerns were not shared by any other car manufacturer and were rejected by Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), which undertook an additional risk analysis in 2014.”

“In referring Germany to the Court of Justice, the Commission aims to ensure that the climate objectives of the MAC Directive are fulfilled and that EU law is uniformly applied throughout the EU so as to ensure fair competitive conditions for all economic operators.”

The Commission published the following background to its decision:

“Directive 2006/40/EC on mobile air-conditioning systems (MAC Directive) stipulates that air conditioning systems in motor vehicles type-approved after 1 January 2011 may not be filled with fluorinated greenhouse gases with a global warming potential (GWP) higher than 150. This means that the use of refrigerant R-134a is not permitted for newly type-approved motor vehicles in the EU and, due to current technical developments, only refrigerant R1234yf is allowed.

From 1 January 2017, the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP higher than 150 in all new vehicles put on the EU market will be totally banned.

After January 2011, Daimler AG continued to produce and sell cars type-approved for the use of the gas R-1234yf while using the banned gas R-134a. These vehicles did not comply with their type-approval, and did not respect Directive 2006/40/EC and the Framework Directive2007/46/EC on type-approvals. The German authorities did not take the necessary action to ensure that the vehicles were brought back in conformity with EU law by ordering Daimler AG to recall the vehicles and make the necessary technical adaptations to ensure full compliance with the MAC Directive.

Furthermore, in May 2013, the German type-approval authorities accepted the request from Daimler AG to type approve new vehicles under an existing type approval, which had been granted before the entry into force of the MAC Directive. The European Commission considers that in doing so, the German authorities have allowed Daimler AG to circumvent the application of the MAC Directive, which would have required the use of the new refrigerator R-1234yf.

Finally, Germany failed to make the necessary use of the penalties foreseen in Article 46 of the Framework Directive 2007/46/EC on type-approvals.”


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