Mercedes-Benz has fought back against comments from European Union (EU) trade commissioner, Antonio Tajani, as the dispute concerning the automaker's continuing use of refrigerant r134a shows no sign of abating.

Road safety authorities from all 28 EU member states are meeting today (17 July) in Brussels in an attempt to thrash out a common solution to a problem that has pitted France and Germany head on as well as involved Tajani himself appearing to take Paris' side.

France has refused to certify Mercedes-Benz A, B and CLA models as they use r134a [first introduced as a replacement for R12 freon in the early 1990s - ed] instead of the lower CO2-emitting r1234yf refrigerant with the German automaker insisting the latter can ignite in certain conditions.

Tajani cites Article 29 of the mobile air conditioning (MAC) directive allowing member states to adopt "temporary" safeguards and that the EC would "consider" France's initiative as a result.

However, Mercedes-Benz itself is concentrating on Article 29 of the directive to bolster its position, insisting a majority of automakers already use r134a.

"From our point of view the [Tajani] statement did not change any on the current situation," a Mercedes-Benz spokesman told just-auto from Germany. "We are still convinced we have valid type approval that is valid throughout Europe and in France. There is no hurdle to register these vehicles in every EU member state, including France.

"We have safety concerns regarding the new refrigerant, r1234yf, that is the reason we do not want to use it in our vehicles. The r134a [refrigerant] is still used by most car manufacturers."

The spokesman noted the trade commissioner's use of Article 29 to support Brussels' position and that member states could decline to register vehicles "if there is a great risk" although he turned the argument's tables around, saying: "We must ask ourselves [if] every vehicle using r134a is risk for safety and the environment? Of course I think nobody thinks that because most of the vehicles on the road today are using r134a.

"We are convinced CO2 air-conditioning systems are the solution for the future. We are convinced we have valid type approval."

Tajani added : "The commission has the duty to ensure European Union law is fully and uniformly applied throughout the EU's internal market, so a level playing field and fair competition conditions are respected for all economic operators."