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VW Emissions Scandal

EU launches legal case against Germany, six other countries over VW scandal

The European Union suspects seven EU members of having failed to crack down on emissions cheating by the German carmaker. Germany claims that current EU law in the area is unclear.

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Germany sued for breaking EU emissions law

The European Commission on Thursday began the so-called "infringement procedures," calling Germany, Britain, Spain and Luxembourg to account for not imposing the same kind of penalties Volkswagen faced in the United States for using illegal software to mask health-harming emissions.

The Czech Republic, Lithuania and Greece have been singled out for having national legislations that did not even allow for fining the car industry over potentional violations.

Germany and Britain also stand accused of refusing to disclose information on possible emissions irregularities in VW vehicles gleaned in national investigations this year.

The Commission, which is the European Union's executive, said in a statement that it was acting on the grounds that the the seven member states "have failed to fulfil their obligations" under EU law.

"National authorities across the EU must ensure that car manufacturers actually comply with the law," said European Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska in a statement.

Worldwide repercussions

German carmaker Volkswagen, Europe's largest, admitted in September 2015 to installing software in its diesel vehicles that falsified test results for nitrogen oxide. The revelation led to mass recalls, the resignation of its chief executive and the imposition of billions of dollars in compensation settlements in the US.

The legal action launched on Thursday is the first step in infringement procedures and gives member states two months to respond. If an adequate response is not forthcoming, the EU could take them to the EU court in Luxembourg.

Germany, which is by far the EU's biggest carmaking state, has complained that EU laws on the matter are poorly framed.

VW itself claims that the so-called "defeat devices" installed in its diesel vehicles were not illegal under EU law.

 tj/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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