Monday

16th Jul 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.

... our 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. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  2. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  3. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  4. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  5. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  6. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  7. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit
  8. Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us