FRANKFURT -- The European Commission has found that Volkswagen Group broke consumer laws in 20 European Union countries by cheating on emissions tests, German daily Die Welt reported, citing Commission sources.
EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova told a news conference today that VW's diesel-emissions scandal was a pan-European challenge and the Commission was assessing whether there had been breaches of two sets of rules that apply across the bloc.
These are the Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive - which prohibits companies from touting exaggerated environmental claims in their sales pitches - and the Unfair Commercial Practises Directive.
VW "set high standards for all the member states to enforce in case these rules are breached. It seems to the case in so-called Dieselgate," Jourova said.
Consumer groups and national authorities gave feedback in recent weeks showing that VW had not provided sufficient information to consumers, she said.
Jourova plans to meet consumer associations on Thursday and national protection agencies on Sept. 29, as well as VW on an unspecified date. "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 did not say what that "strong action" might be. Jourova has been working with consumer groups to pressure Volkswagen to compensate clients in Europe as it has in the U.S. over the diesel-emissions scandal.
VW said it considered the allegations unfounded. "Notwithstanding, in the meantime we are in regular and constructive dialogue with the Brussels authorities and institutions," the company said in a statement.
EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has repeatedly invited VW to consider compensating consumers voluntarily, without an encouraging response.
The Commission has said it is for national organizations and authorities to pursue VW as they see fit. But it is also keen to ensure EU rules are enforced to the full, and has shown with its huge demand for back taxes from Apple that it will take on multinationals itself when it feels it can and it is necessary.
VW has pledged billions of euros to compensate owners of rigged diesels in the U.S., but has so far rejected calls for similar payments for the 8.5 million affected vehicles in Europe, where different legal rules weaken the chances of winning a payout.