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EU Dieselgate: unveiling the weirdness of the EU’s attitude to compliance on environmental matters

Delphine Misonne

elni Review 2018, Issue 2, pp. 52-59. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2018.010

“Google fined €4.34bn by EU over Android antitrust violations”. June 2018: the European Commission imposes a record penalty, after a 39-month investigation into Google’s Android operating system. This worldwide level news confirms the power of the European Union and its Commission in relation to competition and antitrust issues: a direct power to investigate and a power to sanction. By contrast, European environmental law looks like a ‘parent pauvre’. In this area, the European Commission does not enjoy a similar centralized investigative power, not even a faint shadow of it. No European Union institution or agency has such power in environmental matters, not even the European Environmental Agency. While the Commission’s role is to ensure the full application of Community legislation on the environment, enforcement of environmental law is and has always been primarily a responsibility of the Member States. The present paper wants to address the question whether the current inspection landscape, as applicable in the European Union and as far as environmental matters (and emissions into the environment in particular) are concerned, could have taken hold of what is now called ‘dieselgate’ and if both aspects (dieselgate and inspection) are, somehow, interrelated.

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