Sunday

12th Jul 2020

Interview

Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers

  • Volkswagen is refusing to offer any bonus to customers affected by the emissions fraud (Photo: Brett Levin)

The EU's highest official in charge of consumer affairs is “disappointed” that Volkswagen is unwilling to give even a non-financial compensation to consumers who had bought a diesel car equipped with cheating software.

“My optimism is decreasing since last year October, when I was very clear about what I would like Volkswagen to do,” EU justice and consumer affairs commissioner Vera Jourova told EUobserver on Monday (20 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Jourova (l) told VW CEO Mueller (r) she is 'disappointed' (Photo: European Commission)

She wants the German carmaker to provide the 8.5 million Europeans with affected cars with a “gentleman's gesture”.

“Some bonus for inconvenience, something like prolonging of the guarantee period on the engine, or something of this nature,” said Jourova.

It is 522 days on Tuesday since the news broke that Volkswagen Group had fooled authorities with illegal devices that made the car switch into a more environmentally friendly mode during the official test.

Jourova has had three meetings with Volkswagen officials, most recently on 6 February with CEO Matthias Mueller.

“And I still have nothing as a clear concrete response. I informed Mr Mueller that I have been disappointed by the approach to this non-financial bonus and I am still hoping there will be some positive change,” the Czech politician said.

Jourova added she lacked “the tough competence to push for something concrete”, meaning that the European Commission does not have the jurisdiction to act.

She said some national consumer authorities had the power to take legal action, which could result in financial compensation.

The treatment of consumers in Europe differs starkly from that of those in the United States.

There, Volkswagen has agreed to financially compensate affected consumers.

Last week, an American court gave preliminary approval to a settlement between VW and the owners of approximately 75,000 affected Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles with a three litre engine.

Depending on the model, consumers will receive between around €6,656 and €15,237.

It follows an earlier settlement with owners of cars with a two litre engine, who were entitled to €4,600 and €9,000 each.

But the scale of affected cars is different. In the US, some 482,000 cars are affected. The number of cars with cheating software in Europe is 17 times as large.

Last Summer, VW CEO Mueller said offering a similar compensation scheme in Europe would “overstretch” the German company.

For example, if every European consumer received €4,600, Volkswagen would have to set aside €39.1 billion.

“This is an important European company, which employs 600,000 people. I am not here [as] an advocate of Volkswagen but I must see also this aspect,” said Jourova.

She said Europe is “missing” a single court that would have been able to rule on compensation for all European consumers.

Meanwhile, Germany is not willing to apply the same threats as the US.

While Volkswagen was facing potentially high fines in the US, German authorities have said on the record that Volkswagen did not need to be punished beyond having to repair the affected cars.

VW 'partially' delivers on EU-wide plan

German carmaker had promised the EU that all its citizens who own a diesel car with cheating software would be informed by the end of the year, but now it says it needs more time.

News in Brief

  1. Citizens' perception of judicial independence drops
  2. Irish finance minister voted in as eurogroup president
  3. Italy's League party opens office near old communist HQ
  4. 'Significant divergences' remain in Brexit talks
  5. Germany identifies 32,000 right-wing extremists
  6. WHO to hold probe of global Covid-19 response
  7. China accuses Australia of 'gross interference' on Hong Kong
  8. EU to let Croatia, Bulgaria take first step to join euro

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  2. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  3. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds
  4. MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform
  5. If EU wants rule of law in China, it must help 'dissident' lawyers
  6. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  7. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  8. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us