Instead of general arguments, plaintiffs would have to prove damage individually
EU citizens cannot demand lower exhaust gas limits for cars. The first instance court of the European Union (CFI) in Luxembourg dismissed a class action lawsuit of 1,429 people on Friday, May 4, 2018 as insufficiently reasoned (file number: T-197/17). The applicants had not shown to what extent they suffer individually from car emissions and to what extent the burden of lower limit values would actually be lower.
The EU Commission responded to the exhaust gas scandal with a regulation from 2016. At the core are measurements in real driving, so that the collected values cannot be manipulated by fraud software. However, the new test procedure only applies to the approval of new vehicle types. The limit values to be observed here are higher than the previous limit values.
Before the CFI, the new regulation is attacked by three European capitals and also by numerous citizens.
The cities of Paris (ref .: T-339/16), Brussels (ref .: T-352/16) and Madrid (ref .: T-391/16) want to overturn the new requirements so that the earlier limit values continue to apply. They claim that the EU Commission is not responsible at all. In addition, the regulation violates the principles of legal security and the protection of legitimate expectations and violates the goal of a high level of environmental protection, which is enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The CJEU has not yet ruled on these lawsuits, the hearing is scheduled for May 17, 2018.
In another class action, 1,429 citizens, mostly from France, claimed damages. The higher limit values led to poorer air and thus to a deterioration in their health. They are therefore very concerned about their environment and lose confidence that the EU is trying to deal with environmental degradation.
The CFI now rejected this complaint. As justification, the Luxembourg judges stated that compensation from the EU would only be considered in the event of a “serious breach of a legal regulation”. In doing so, damage must have arisen that is demonstrably due to the misconduct of an EU institution.
Here, the plaintiffs had not proven any individual damage. Although the very large number of plaintiffs lived and lived under different conditions, they only made general arguments and did not present any personal considerations regarding their individual exhaust gas pollution and health situation, the CFI complained.
It is also open whether lower limit values would actually lead to a faster reduction in exhaust gas pollution. It could also be the case that drivers keep their old cars longer because cars that comply with the strict limits are still too expensive.
The EuG emphasized that the legality of the regulation was not decided. "The rejection of the class action lawsuit by 1,429 natural persons does not prejudice the outcome of the actions brought against the Commission regulation by the cities of Paris, Brussels and Madrid." In addition, the operators of the class action lawsuit can still appeal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). mwo