A measuring hose for emissions inspections in diesel engines sticks in the exhaust tube of a Volkswagen (VW) Golf 2,0 TDI diesel car at a garage in Frankfurt an der Oder, eastern Germany, on October 1, 2015. Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million diesel cars worldwide are fitted with devices that can switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is undergoing testing. AFP PHOTO / DPA / PATRICK PLEUL +++ GERMANY OUT +++

Brussels, Belgium - The European Union's executive has proposed wholesale changes to tests for new car models to crack down on excessive emissions and avoid scandals such as the one that hit Volkswagen and the automobile sector in 2015.

Emissions from cars on the road in the EU have been found to be four to five times above the official limits. That's largely because the current tests are done in labs, where carmakers are able to cut corners to pass. The back seats might be pulled out to reduce weight, for example, or the doors taped over to reduce air drag.

Under the new rules, the member states and the EU Commission would be allowed to carry out spot tests on cars that have already been released onto the market.

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The EU also wants to do away with a system whereby car companies can pay technical services to carry out the testing and thereby cut any possible financial links between the industry and the testers.

Vehicle testing, which is currently carried out in individual states, would come under greater centralised European oversight under the new rules.

EU commissioner Jyrki Katainen said on Wednesday that in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, “it is essential to restore a level playing field and fair competition in the market”.

Wednesday's proposals will now go to the EU member states and the European Parliament for further debate before they can become law.

“To regain customers' trust in this important industry,” Katainen said, ”we need to tighten the rules but also ensure they are effectively observed.”

AP

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