Saturday

28th May 2022

Four European consumer groups team up to sue VW

  • Consumer campaigner Pachl: 'Volkswagen has really not shown that it cares about its customers'. (Photo: Brett Levin)

Consumer organisations from four European countries are working together to demand compensation for people whose diesel cars, made by Volkswagen Group (VW), are equipped with an emissions cheating code in the software.

The groups - from EU member states Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, and non-EU Switzerland - announced on Tuesday (12 September) that they would work together with an international law firm to sue VW in Germany.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The goal is to sue VW in a German court in order to obtain compensation," the Brussels-based European umbrella organisation of consumer groups, BEUC, said in a press release.

Almost two years ago, it was revealed that VW had committed worldwide fraud on emissions tests.

However, while the German industrial giant has agreed to give US consumers several thousands of dollars in compensation, the European owners of affected diesel cars receive nothing.

"Volkswagen has really not shown that it cares about its customers," BEUC's Ursula Pachl told EUobserver in an interview last week.

She said that not much has changed in VW's attitude towards compensating Europeans over the past two years since the scandal broke.

VW's strategy in Europe is divide and conquer, said Pachl. It is able to do that because there is no overarching European legislation on consumer compensation in cases like these.

"It will be much cheaper for Volkswagen to compensate a few Spanish and Italian consumers, than to have to deal with a European claim, which we don't have the instruments for," said Pachl.

Her organisation has campaigned for several years now to introduce in Europe what they call collective redress - a mechanism known in the US as class action - whereby people can combine their lawsuits.

Through the international action announced by the four European consumer groups, a workaround method is being adopted.

BEUC said in its press release on Tuesday that through the pan-European cooperation "consumers will be able to hold VW accountable without economic risk".

The European Commission has been asked to come up with some form of collective redress, an option it is still investigating.

Meanwhile, Pachl praised EU consumer affairs commissioner Vera Jourova for her attempts to persuade VW to provide Europeans with compensation.

"We certainly appreciate the fact that she tried to make this effort," said Pachl, noting that Jourova was probably "surprised" by VW's uncooperative attitude.

She also praised consumer authorities who, last week, came together in a joint letter to Volkswagen, telling it to finish repairs on the cars within a month.

"It's very late, but okay," she said. "We really can welcome it".

VW is also being sued by consumer groups in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

EU urges consumer groups to go after VW

European consumer groups met in Brussels to discuss strategy and tactics on how to have Volkswagen Group compensate owners of cars with cheating software.

VW diesel repairs could take until 2019

German car company has fixed 5.4 million of the 8.5 million European diesel cars that were equipped with emissions-cheating software. Some consumers have decided to shun Volkswagen Group forever.

Pro-EU network teams up with VW for integrity event

European Movement International will host an event titled 'Integrity, transparency, and good corporate citizenship' in co-operation with Volkswagen Group, which carried out large-scale emissions fraud.

Commission grilled on RePowerEU €210bn pricetag

EU leaders unveiled a €210bn strategy aiming to cut Russian gas out of the European energy equation before 2027 and by two-thirds before the end of the year — but questions remain on how it is to be financed.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us