Romanian owners of Volkswagen cars might sue the owner for damages, but they will have a hard time arguing their cases if local authorities do not rush their own investigation, lawyer Mihai Titichi of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Romania estimated in a press conference on Thursday.
“As regards the late day’s scandal concerning Volkswagen, my opinion is that in Europe everything depends on the European Commission’s reactions. As far as I know, the European forum already reacted by calling the authorities of the European Union member states to launch local investigations. If legislation is changed quickly, I thin the auto industry will not be badly affected; nor will the consumers’ confidence. In Romania, a client might seek damages in court, but it will be very hard. They have to prove the prejudice, the consumer’s guilt and the causality relation between the guilt and the prejudice. Alternately, if national authorities carry out checks and find carbon emission norms have been infringed, then based on such data the consumer can sue the producer. If the car is under guaranty, the client can turn against the dealer; if it’s out of guaranty, directly against the producer,” Titichi explained.
According to him, Italy’s Consumers Association sued a class action against Volkswagen and Fiat this year, after the fuel consumption was found higher than the technical specifications. Unfortunately, he added, Romanian laws do not allow class actions.
The lawyer said 700,000 Volkswagen cars are registered in Romania, but he had no information on models with problems.
The European Commission asked on Thursday the 28 EU member states to start their own investigation into Volkswagen’s diesel models, to establish if and to what extent the group’s vehicles registered in the European Union were equipped with devices that break the EU regulations.
The Volkswagen group, the biggest automaker in the world, is accused of manipulating emission tests in the United States, by installing software that allowed the cars to meet the pollution standards while tested, although not in normal operation. Volkswagen officials admitted the fact and announced 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide avoided pollution standards by such means. The models has involved are Volkswagen’s Jetta, Beetle, Passat and Audi A3.
Lawyers believe Romanian consumers may have to pay pollution charge difference
Romanian consumers may pay the difference into the account the pollution charge, the current environment stamp, for the polluting fumes emitted by Volkswagen cars consider lawyers Gheorghe Piperea and Marius Coltuc.
“The people who bought this car, being certain that its polluting emissions are not too high, will likely be requested to pay. The Romanian authorities will certainly ask this money from the population. The population should be upset about it because, in fact, if anyone must pay this charge, it must be Volkswagen. Volkswagen will say it must not pay this charge because also the European Commission considered it illegal,” said Piperea.
On the other hand, the said lawyer is convinced that the European and the Romanian authorities will say that Volkswagen does not have to pay.
In turn, lawyer Marius Coltuc mentioned that the Romanian state can request that the Romanian Auto Registry call back consumers to do the emission test one more time.
“For those who have paid the environment stamp or the pollution charge, the Romanian state, through the Romanian Auto Registry, can determine [consumers] when there is suspicion, to do the emission test once more. The moment the emission test is done again, then a new calculation decision can be issued. If there are differences, then ANAF can foreclose on the amount in the calculation decision or not register the car. The relations are between the public authority and the person who registered the car,” Coltuc explained, according to Agerpres.
Minister of Environment: Joint working group to establish measures Romanian state will impose in Volkswagen case
The Romanian authorities will set up a joint working group in the period ahead, to be tasked with establishing the measures that the Romanian state should impose in the Volkswagen case, Minister of Environment, Waters and Forestry Gratiela Gavrilescu told Agerpres on Friday.
“We’ve decided with the Transport Minister that our two ministries’ specialists meet. Yesterday [Thursday] we called a meeting between the specialists of the Environment Authority and the Romanian Car Registry at the Environment Ministry’s headquarters. Also attending the talks was National Environmental Protection Agency Chairman Toma Petcu, General Commissioner of the National Environmental Protection Guard Florin Diaconu and Romanian Car Registry Managing Director George Adrian Dinca,” Gavrilescu said.
“The meeting was organised in order to establish the actions the Romanian state should take in this case. The specialists decided they will lay the foundations of a joint working group to involve both Car Registry specialists and specialists from the National Environmental Protection Agency and the National Environmental Protection Guard. At the same time, the Transport Minister has already asked the German homologation authority to clarify this matter. Therefore, the Romanian state will decide what are the legal measures that should be imposed, depending on the results of the joint working group and on the answer that we will receive from the German homologation authority,” Minister Gavrilescu explained.
As for a possible modification of the car tax, the Environment Minister underscored “it is extremely premature to speak until we have all the information”.