BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- EU regulators said they are in contact with Volkswagen Group and U.S. authorities following the automaker's admission it had rigged emissions tests, and called on member states to rigorously enforce the relevant law.
In calling on national governments to be "particularly vigilant ... on national manufacturers," a statement from the European Commission on Tuesday appeared to echo longstanding criticism from environmental campaigners of Germany's enforcement of standards on makers of big cars and trucks that drive its export economy.
The EU executive has been working for years to tighten testing procedures for new vehicles in the European Union, which manufacturers are known to manipulate.
Member states, especially Germany, have lobbied to dilute tougher regulation and officials and campaigners say they have turned a blind eye to sloppy oversight.
In a statement, European Commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet said investigations were ongoing and it was premature to say whether "immediate surveillance measures" were also necessary in Europe.
"But let me be clear: We need to get to the bottom of this. For the sake of our consumers and the environment, we need certainty that industry scrupulously respects emissions limits," she said.
Caudet said the Commission was in contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), as well as VW, concerning the situation in the U.S.
Caudet also called on member states to rigorously enforce vehicle standards, saying it was their responsibility.
"National authorities responsible for vehicle type approval and enforcement of emissions testing need to be particularly vigilant and rigorous in executing the obligations imposed on national manufacturers," she said, adding the Commission was calling a meeting with the national authorities.
While the EU as a whole sets the emissions limits and defines the testing procedures, it is up to member states to enforce them and if necessary withdraw approval and fine manufacturers.
The European Commission has proposed a law to narrow the gap between car emissions registered in laboratory tests and on the road following the publication of Commission research showing a major discrepancy, especially for nitrogen oxides (NOX) associated with diesel cars.
In Europe, diesel cars represent more than 50 percent of total registrations, compared with less than 1 percent in the U.S., and many member states have broken EU limits on safe limits on NOx, which is linked to lung disease.