Comprehensive measures to prevent a repeat of the Dieselgate scandal today secured final approval from MEPs.
Conservative Internal Market spokesman Daniel Dalton - who led the legislation through the European Parliament - described the previous regulations as "at best patchy and at worst ineffective" and said his report introduced a strong, transparent system to ensure cars are safe and meet emissions standards.
"Consumers have been cheated and their confidence in the system been undermined," he said. "My aim has been to clean up after Dieselgate and ensure that in future any manufacturer guilty of mis-selling and deliberate manipulation of test results will be caught.
"This legislation delivers for car owners and the environment while avoiding unnecessary burdens on manufacturers. Safety and emissions standards will finally be applied fairly and properly across the board."
The new system is the European Union's main legislative response to Volkswagen's deliberate falsifying of vehicle emissions tests. It introduces:
* Checks on hundreds of cars of various ages to ensure they continue to meet emission and safety standards in real driving conditions throughout their lives;
* For the first time national authorities are required to fine car makers guilty of significant failures;
* The European Commission will oversee national testing authorities and have powers to undertake spot checks on cars across the EU;
* Vehicles failing tests will be subject to a rapid EU-wide recall system.
The legislation also demands that independent garages are granted access to new vehicle information previously withheld by manufacturers, enabling them to compete for repairs and servicing work.
Mr Dalton said: "This has been a key issue for me as lead negotiator. It will open up the market and make repairs cheaper by introducing greater competition between independent businesses and franchise garages."
MEPs passed the report at the European Parliament in Strasbourg this afternoon by 547 votes to 83, with 16 abstentions.
The new laws must be introduced in Member States by September 2020.