Monday

26th Jun 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit