|European Commission – Press release|
Industry: Commission refers GERMANY to the Court of Justice of the EU over failure to apply Directive on mobile air conditioning
Brussels, 10 December 2015
Commission refers GERMANY to EU Court of Justice over the use of a banned greenhouse gas as car refrigerant
The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU over the failure to apply Directive 2006/40/EC(Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive) on mobile air-conditioning systems which prescribes the use of motor vehicles’ refrigerants with less global warming potential and the phasing out of certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. 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.
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 (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), which undertook an additional risk analysis in 2014.
Despite contacts between the Commission and the German authorities in the context of the infringement procedure, Germany has not taken any further steps against the issuing of the type-approval of non-compliant motor vehicles and has not taken appropriate remedial action on the manufacturer.
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.
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.