Finally: European consumer protection authorities to act jointly against Volkswagen

BEUC NEWS - 08.03.2017

BEUC strongly welcomes that consumer protection authorities across the EU intend to pursue common action against Volkswagen because of its diesel emissions fraud.

 

Despite long-standing calls from consumer organisations, as well as the European Commission, the car manufacturer continues to refuse to compensate EU consumers for its emissions deceit. This stands in stark contrast to the United States, where the company does compensate consumers.

The European Commission does not have the legal power to sue Volkswagen. There is, however, a base for national authorities to act together when an infringement of EU consumer law stretches across national borders.

The Italian competition and consumer authority last summer decided to fine VW for its unfair commercial practices. Now, the Dutch competition and consumer authority takes the lead to co-ordinate a joint European approach towards VW. This comes in parallel to the Dutch authority’s own investigation into the VW fraud towards consumers, at the request of Consumentenbond (a BEUC member).    

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director-General, said:

“Volkswagen has exhausted the patience of the European commission, national authorities and consumers. It’s great to see that the Commission now does bring together national authorities to step up their effort. European consumers have been waiting for a long time for a signal from their authorities that wilfully cheating consumers and infringing laws cannot be without repercussions.

“As long as Europe lacks a collective redress procedure, joint enforcement is the only way Volkswagen can be forced to end their disregard for the European consumer.”

BEUC members Altroconsumo (Italy), DECO (Portugal), OCU (Spain) and Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats (Belgium) have already launched legal actions in courts against Volkswagen. However, such legal action is not an option for consumers and their organisations in other Member States, as the EU still lacks a collective redress procedure for all countries.