Skip to main content

Just How Many European Laws Did Volkswagen Break In Dieselgate?

Volkswagen's Dieselgate troubles may just have become a little worse today as the European Commission said the automaker may have violated the laws in 20 nations.
Posted: September 5, 2016 - 4:12PM
Author: Marc Stern

Join us...    

It is another day for Volkswagen, and the hits just keep on coming! In today’s installment of the fallout from the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, the European Commission said Volkswagen violated the law in 20 European Union countries because of its emissions cheating. A story about the depth of the emissions cheating scandal appeared in the German daily Die Welt.

In a news conference following the story, EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova called the Dieselgate emissions crisis a European challenge. She indicated that the scandal might go deeper as the Commission was looking to see if the automaker broke not just one, but two sets of rules that apply across the EU. The rules are:

  1. The Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive – this prevents exaggerated environmental claims in ads.
  2. The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The laws “set high standards for all member states to enforce in case these rules are breached,” Jourova emphasized. “It seems to [be] the case in so-called Dieselgate.” In recent weeks, consumer groups and others have shown that VW has not been proving sufficient information to consumers, she said.

She plans a meeting with consumer associations on Thursday and national protection agencies Sept. 29. Later on, she will meet with the automaker. “It is not my intention to come with strong action without fair communication with the company,” she said. “I cannot say I am going to take a stricter approach. I want them to look at the valid legislation and see what they have to do.”

Jourova wants the automaker to compensate consumers in Europe as it has in the U.S. over Dieselgate. The automaker declined to comment.

The European Commission has repeatedly tried to work with the automaker to no avail. For example, EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has asked VW to consider compensating consumers voluntarily, said Reuters today. However, she hasn’t received an encouraging response.

VW has so far rejected calls for European compensation plans similar to the one negotiated in the U.S. where the automaker has pledged billions to pay owners of its rigged diesels.

Join us...    


Mark Day (not verified)    September 6, 2016 - 9:45PM

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."

– Tacitus c. 55 A.D.

Possibly destroy a company for, in effect, a speed-limit violation. And destroy it by the non-producers of the world (parasites) who provide nothing of value to the consumer.

Peter Wilkins (not verified)    September 7, 2016 - 1:48AM

I expect giant global corporations to obey environmental laws intended to protect public health. VW Group had almost €1.2T in sales 2009-2015. They already set aside €16.2B in 2015 for the emissions "issue", most of which has not yet been paid out. Typical yearly profits have been €10B-€25B (before tax). They might have to run losses for a few years and they might have to sell a few of their many brands, but they can afford to treat their core European customers fairly after lying to them, cheating them and poisoning them for 9 years.

Mark Day (not verified)    September 7, 2016 - 1:24PM

"...and poisoning them for 9 years." Not aware of any health issues related to a CUSTOMER. Arbitrary and capricious "rules" by non-produces are detrimental to the economy and job creation. As a paying CUSTOMER I should be the arbiter of what I can purchase, not a parasitic bureaucrat. It's called freedom of choice. No proven "victim" no "crime".

stern0 (not verified)    September 7, 2016 - 5:39PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

When a manufacturer admits to years of lying and breaking the law, it is not a matter for the customer anymore, it is a matter for the authorities. In this case, VW admitted to breaking the law for a number of years, hence the punishment. That consumers have been caught up in all of this, while unfortunate, is a sidebar to the main issue, that of an automaker caught in a lie.

Peter Wilkins (not verified)    September 8, 2016 - 1:57AM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

Laws broken = crime. I don't see how VW's emissions cheat created jobs, except in the European health care industry. Nitrogen dioxide inflames human airways and causes asthma attacks. It reacts in the air to form particulates and ozone, aggravating bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease. People can die. There have been victims. Concentrations of NOx can be 2-3 times greater inside vehicles traveling on busy streets than measured on the roadside. Some of the victims were drivers, including VW/Audi/Porsche/Skoda/SEAT customers. Besides, fixing and replacing illegal cars creates jobs so I don't see why you are against it.

stern0 (not verified)    September 8, 2016 - 11:49AM

I have a problem with people who commit fraud and then believe they can get away with their lying in perpetuity.The engineering team decided in 2006 to lie about meeting emissions standards when they knew their fix wouldn't work at all. They imported some code and placed it in the emissions code chain. The code turned the emissions system on and off. It was on when a test was being run and then off the rest of the time. When it was on, the car passed emissions easily; when it was off, it failed big time. The failure was on the order of 40 times the allowable limits. That's a huge number. It wouldn't have been so bad if the engineers came out and admitted there was a problem and they were working on it. But, and it is a huge but, they didn't. Instead, they decided to use the cheatware to make it look as if their vehicles were passing emissions and then they went and told the world they had invented "clean diesel." They got away with this lie for six years until they were found out by an independent research team that was seeking the secret of VW's success. That "secret" was that they were cheating, while telling the world that their products met the standards. Can you see why I might have a tad of a problem with it? They not only messed with the health of the people near their products, but they lied about it continually to the point that they have now cost VW more than $16 billion in consumer and regulatory settlements, but another $1.2 billion to dealers. This doesn't begin to count what they might be fined when their criminal cases get to court and are settled. Who knows what that might be?

Granted, VW does have deep pockets, for the most part, but they aren't that deep.

I hope that explains why I believe the way I do.