Volkswagen Group faces continued scrutiny from the European Union over how it implements a pledge to give consumers more information about repairs linked to the diesel-emissions scandal.
Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, who last week failed to win significant concessions from the automaker following talks in Brussels, said in a speech that she is working within the limits of EU law.
“My duty is to work for consumers,” Jourova said Wednesday at an event in Brussels, a week after meeting with Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, VW’s top negotiator for diesel issues. “This means that I will also be a dialogue partner for consumers who decide to defend their rights for compensation under national law.”
The battle over compensation for EU car owners is one of several flash points from VW’s admission a year ago that it used software on about 11 million vehicles that allowed it to cheat on pollution tests. The U.S. is assessing how big a criminal fine it can extract from VW while investors have filed suits seeking 8.2 billion euros ($9.2 billion).
Consumer groups have criticized the outcome of last week’s meeting, saying the action plan Volkswagen committed to is little more than the company’s initial promise in December to repair vehicles. While Europeans get repairs, owners of American cars are entitled to a compensation package worth thousands of dollars.
“They cheated on authorities, they cheated on consumers,” Ursula Pachl, deputy director-general of BEUC, a Brussels-based European consumer organization, said before Jourova’s speech. “We just hope now that commissioner Jourova will take this case as a very clear call to do what needs to be done. The public and the consumers are left in the dark.”
Jourova said she had never promised to push for compensation.
“I am a kind of politician who never makes promises on which she cannot deliver,” she said. “I didn’t want to promise something which I cannot deliver, and that is the compensation.”
Sept. 22 Agreement
Jourova called the Sept. 22 agreement with Volkswagen an “important step.” Previously she had said she was working with consumer groups to ensure that the 8.5 million European owners are treated fairly. Volkswagen has consistently said that it wouldn’t offer anything beyond repairs in the region.
Volkswagen’s cheating on tests of smog-causing emissions has reverberated across the globe in the last 12 months. Investors have lined up to sue in Germany, where VW shares plunged in the first two trading days after the mid-September 2015 disclosure of the emissions scandal by U.S. regulators.