Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

Pro-EU network teams up with VW for integrity event

  • Having Volkswagen as a co-organiser will give the company visibility at an event on integrity (Photo: Volkswagen Belgium)

An EU-funded federalist network organisation has teamed up with German carmaker Volkswagen Group (VW) to organise a public event in Brussels on integrity, transparency, and good corporate citizenship.

The network, European Movement International (EMI), on its event page, promised a "frank and open discussion".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We wanted to use the Volkswagen example to discuss the failings in the corporate world," EMI's secretary general, Petros Fassoulas, told EUobserver in an interview on Monday (12 February).

The decision to hold the event in co-operation with Volkswagen - rather than merely having invited a Volkswagen speaker - was criticised earlier that day by the head of the pan-EU consumer network Beuc.

"How can you team up with them?" asked Beuc's Monique Goyens, noting that European consumers have still not received compensation from the German carmaker following the Dieselgate scandal, which erupted in September 2015.

VW equipped around 8.5 million diesel cars in Europe with so-called defeat devices, which recognised that the car was being tested. In reality, VW's diesel cars were much dirtier than the test results suggested.

For years, the company tried to hide its emissions fraud from the European authorities, and has decided to keep secret a report on how the emissions scandal was allowed to happen.

More recently, it was revealed that VW had paid an institute in the United States to force monkeys to breathe in toxic diesel emissions, in an attempt to produce research results that put diesel in a favourable light.

At the event, which is scheduled to take place on 8 March, the carmaker will be represented by Hiltrud D. Werner, VW's management board member in charge of integrity and legal affairs since February 2017.

Werner will give a speech and then take part in a panel discussion.

The debate will also include European ombudsman Emily O'Reilly, the director of Transparency International and the director-general of the lobby organisation BusinessEurope, as well as Fassoulas. It will be moderated by a BBC journalist.

EMI's secretary general noted that his organisation has had regular conversations with VW.

VW's main EU lobbyist, Christof-Sebastian Klitz, is on EMI's board.

"When the recent scandal erupted, we discussed that this is an opportunity for them to come forward, but it is also an opportunity for us to set up a platform, and invite other stakeholders to discuss how the corporate world can be more responsible," said Fassoulas.

"If you read the invitation text, there is no attempt there to hide from the fact that VW did something wrong, and we are bringing them forward to discuss it with other partners."

Open dialogue

"I take the point regarding opting for a partnership with VW," said Fassoulas, when told that there is a difference between inviting VW as a guest speaker and having the company co-organise the event.

"The important thing here is having the subject raised, not so much the fact that they are 'partners' instead of just featuring a speaker. It was a good way to encourage them to come forward and be part of this open dialogue."

He noted that he did not know if VW would have showed up as a speaker if it had not been co-organiser.

In 2016, VW lobbyist and EMI board member Klitz spoke at an event in Brussels on lobbying transparency organised by the European Ombudsman.

Also that year, consumer organisation Beuc - whose director-general criticised EMI - held an event on Dieselgate which included a panel discussion with another representative of VW.

No VW cash

In both cases, VW speakers accepted the invitation to appear as guests, without the company being a co-organiser.

Fassoulas emphasised that VW has not paid for the event. The venue was offered for free by the permanent representation of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia, a stone's throw from the European Parliament.

The European Movement International was founded almost seven decades ago, and consists of pro-European organisations in 39 countries. Its current president is centre-right MEP Eva Maydell.

It has received an annual sum of €350,000 in EU structural funding since 2014 - from 2008 until 2013 the annual EU contribution to the EMI's budget was €430,000.

This article initially stated that MEP Jo Leinen was president of European Movement International. However, Leinen left that position last November 2017 and has been succeeded by Eva Maydell. This was corrected on Tuesday 13 February at 10:34.

Investigation

VW to EU: We will fail on recall promise

German carmaker told EU commission in a private meeting it expected only 75 percent of cars will be fixed by the end of 2017.

MEPs want Volkswagen EU loan fraud report published

The European Investment Bank has kept a report explaining how it was tricked into giving Volkswagen Group a €400m loan secret. MEPs want to make it public, plus a paper with recommendations on how to prevent future deceptions.

UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit

Britain wants to negotiate with Brussels the end date of the Brexit transition period - without saying what their preferred end date would be. The UK's position paper disagrees with the EU on other key points too.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission