Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Luxembourg sues 'unknown' VW staff on emissions fraud

  • Luxembourg is suing the "unknown" persons who are responsible for the diesel fraud (Photo: Volkswagen)

Luxembourg has filed a lawsuit for fraud against “unknown” executives in Volkswagen Group who were responsible for the Dieselgate affair.

The Grand Duchy said on Monday (6 February) that it could not name names because it was still unclear who within the German carmaker knew that millions of its diesel cars were being equipped with emissions cheating software.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • EU commissioner Jourova (l) told Volkswagen Group CEO Mueller that the German company 'should offer a kind of bonus or compensation to its European customers' (Photo: European Commission)

Rosano Grasso, the lawyer on behalf of the state, added, according to the Letzebuerger Journal newspaper: “If we would sue the CEO of VW, we may receive a counter-accusation of slander.”

Also on Monday, the VW CEO Matthias Mueller visited Brussels to speak to the EU commissioner for consumer affairs, Vera Jourova. He repeated that Volkswagen will not compensate EU customers who had bought a car with the fraudulent software.

A commission source told EUobserver that VW agreed with Jourova that it would begin sending monthly reports that detailed the progress towards repairing the 8.5 million affected cars in Europe.

Mueller repeated the company's promise that all cars should be repaired by the autumn of 2017, two years after the scandal became public.

“He also agreed to reinforce and intensify the information campaign of Volkswagen,” said Jourova in a press statement.

“However, I insisted again that Volkswagen should offer a kind of bonus or compensation to its European customers. EU consumers deserve a fair treatment and Volkswagen should move on that point soon,” said Jourova, adding that such a solution was “also in Volkswagen's interest”.

Volkswagen has so far refused to provide any compensation to European consumers, in stark contrast to the multi million-dollar settlement packages that it agreed in the US.

One of the reasons may be that there is a single authority in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a large stick available: the possibility to impose high fines.

In Europe, many member states, including Germany, never introduced into law the penalties for such a crime despite their obligations under EU law.

At one hearing in the European Parliament, the head of the German car approval authority even said that making VW repair the cars was enough of a penalty.

Sanctions

Luxembourg also does not have the means to punish the use of illegal defeat devices, as the cheating software is known.

“We did not have any sanction possibilities,” Luxembourg’s environment minister, Francois Bausch, said according to the Letzebuerger Journal, even though all EU states had committed to introduce sanctions by 2009.

He noted, however, that a new law which was entered into force at the end of 2016 would make this kind of fraud punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine of up to €500,000.

He also said the certificates granted by the Luxembourg car approval authority to Audi, a VW daughter company, could be withdrawn.

Luxembourg's legal action comes less than two months after the European Commission opened infringement procedures against Luxembourg and six other EU countries, for not doing enough to deter carmakers from cheating on emission tests.

Luxembourg had two months to reply. Monday's legal action was said to have started already in June 2016, however.

Upcoming vote

Meanwhile, European lawmakers are preparing this week to vote on the future of the European car approval system, including on how certification fraud can be prevented or punished.

The internal market and consumer affairs committee will vote on a commission proposal which would grant the commission more oversight in the certification process.

Sources in the European Parliament told EUobserver that it looked like MEPs would reach a compromise before the vote.

This compromise would not advocate setting up a separate EU agency, as some left-wing MEPs had wanted, but would give the commission more powers and would increase transparency.

Investigation

Emissions cheats face tiny fines in some EU states

Fines for car firms that cheat tests in the EU range from €7 million to €1,000. EU commission itself unsure to what extent states complied with rules on "dissuasive" penalties.

News in Brief

  1. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  2. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  3. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack
  4. 'Don't look for answers to Brussels', EU tells UK
  5. Germany warns UK not to 'misuse' EU patience on Brexit
  6. Germany sent 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU states
  7. Poll: Macron popularity up four percent
  8. 'Economy is broken' says Oxfam in global inequality report

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan
  2. 'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP
  3. Brexit power grab by MPs hangs over May's 'Plan B'
  4. Polish mayor's funeral marred by Tusk TV dispute
  5. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?
  6. Seven member states miss climate plan deadline
  7. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  8. Germany led way on EU rights protection

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us