Thursday

15th Nov 2018

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. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published
  2. UK cabinet agrees Brexit deal after marathon session
  3. Czechs join other EU states in rejecting UN migration pact
  4. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  5. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  6. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  7. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  8. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls

Opinion

Crunch time to end overfishing in the EU

What happens when a difficult deadline hits? This is precisely what is being played out in EU fisheries as we approach the landmark legal commitment under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing by 2020.

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  2. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  3. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  4. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  5. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  6. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  7. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  8. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us