EU finds Volkswagen broke consumer laws in 20 countries

FRANKFURT: The European Commission has found that Volkswagen broke consumer laws in 20 European Union countries by cheating on emissions tests, German daily Die Welt reported, citing Commission sources.

Among them 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, both of which apply across the EU, the paper said.

The European Commission said Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has repeatedly invited Volkswagen to consider compensating consumers voluntarily, without an encouraging response, and that it was for national courts to determine whether consumers were legally entitled to compensation.

To ensure consumers are treated fairly, a Commission spokeswoman said, Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova had written to consumer associations across the EU to collect information.

"She will meet relevant representatives in Brussels this week," the spokeswoman wrote in an emailed response.

Volkswagen declined to comment.

Jourova has been working with consumer groups to pressure Volkswagen to compensate clients in Europe as it has in the United States over the diesel emissions scandal.

Volkswagen has pledged billions of euros to compensate owners of VW diesel-powered cars, 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 pay out.

Jourova told Die Welt that she was still analysing feedback from the member states.

"But it already appears that Volkswagen clearly breached European consumer laws in most member states. That is why I think it is necessary that we get involved to coordinate on a European level," the paper quoted her as saying in a summary of an article to be published on Monday.

Die Welt cited sources as saying that Jourova would meet with representatives of the consumer protection groups in the coming days to discuss a strategy for claiming compensation from Volkswagen.