UK inquiry: 'Regulatory failure' helped cause VW scandal
By Peter Teffer
Volkswagen Group (VW) acted with “a cynical disregard for emissions limits”, members of the British parliament said in a report published Friday (15 July).
However, they noted the cheating scandal involving the German industrial giant “was not just the result of corporate deception; it was also the result of regulatory failure”.
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The transport committee of the UK's House of Commons launched an inquiry after VW had admitted to using cheating software on emissions tests. It interviewed the managing director of VW's UK branch, but it found “much of VW’s evidence to be not credible”.
VW has always maintained that the cheating software, known legally as defeat devices, was illegal in the United States, but not in Europe.
But according to the MPs, that claim does not hold.
“It is not credible for Volkswagen Group to apologise for its conduct only to then deny that it had done anything wrong,” the report said.
“Volkswagen deceived both regulators and their own customers on a global scale and it has shown a cynical disregard for emissions limits which exist to protect human health from dangerous pollutants.”
MPs also said that the treatment European VW customers received, compared to their American counterparts, “is deeply unfair”.
In the US, most customers that bought an affected diesel car will receive between €4,600 and €9,000 each. Europeans are to get nothing.
But the parliamentarians also criticised authorities.
They say the UK transport ministry “has been far too slow to assess the applicability of its powers to prosecute VW”.
“We are disappointed that regulators have shown little interest in establishing whether VW has broken any laws,” the report noted.
The authors said that it is unclear who should answer the question whether VW broke the law in the EU.
“The [UK] minister [Robert Goodwill] said the question of legality was a matter for the courts but he was not able to tell us for certain which authority would be responsible for initiating court proceedings.”
The report said “an unacceptable dispute over the legality of VW’s actions in Europe” has arisen, as a consequence of unclear legislation.
“We disagree with the European Commission and the [UK] department for transport on the contention that the regulations for prohibiting defeat devices is adequate.”
The MPs noted that other manufacturers than VW may have cheated. They said some of the emission control strategies that companies installed in their diesel cars “are defeat devices by another name”.