Merkel let off hook! EU waives £1bn in fines for German car industry – damning new report

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Facts4EU highlighted the eyebrow-raising decision in a report published on its website in which it accused the Commission of “letting Germany off the hook”. The report pointed out the legal case launched by the Commission was separate from the diesel emissions scandal whereby some German car companies allegedly falsified the emissions data for their new diesel cars.

Instead it relates to “car manufacturers illegally colluded to restrict competition in the area of emission cleaning technology for diesel cars”, according to a statement published by the Commission yesterday.

The statement adds: “All companies acknowledged their participation in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.

“Every year millions of new diesel cars worth billions of Euros are sold in Europe. 

And many more are already in use.

“Not only users of these cars, but all citizens must be able to trust that car manufacturers compete with one another to reduce harmful emissions from their vehicles. But these companies did not meet these expectations.”

Despite this, the fines were dramatically reduced, Facts4EU’s report claimed.

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Mercedes-Benz was completely exempt on the basis that it was the first to cooperate with the investigation, dodging a potential fine of £626.7million.

Volkswagen, which also manufactures Audi and Porsche, cooperated after Mercedes-Benz had done so, received a 45 percent “leniency reduction” and a further 10 percent ‘settlement discount’, adding up to a fine of £433.1 million compared with the £874.9 million they could have been expected to pay.

BMW received no leniency reduction, but did benefit from the settlement discount, meaning it paid £321.4 million rather than £357.1billion

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Consequently, the total amount paid in fines was £754.5 million, rather than £1,858.7 million.

The Commission’s investigation related to nitrogen oxide (NOx), which is now seen as more noxious than carbon dioxide.

Specifically, the top five German car manufacturers held private meetings to suppress any competition between them on the best use of technology to reduce these harmful emissions.

Facts4EU spokesman David Evans said: “It is hard not to draw the conclusion that if the Commission had brought this case again British car manufacturers, it would have thrown the book at them.

“Instead one cartel case against the German motor industry has been dropped completely and the one that has been settled has resulted in significantly reduced penalties.

”The German car industry has dominated the EU for years.

”With its second major scandal inside a decade, it is difficult to understand why it saw the need to do what it has done.

”It was already benefiting from an artificially undervalued currency, allowing it to penetrate and profit from ‘captive’ customers across the EU’s Single Market.

”Meanwhile, the UK will only benefit from a small reduction in its divorce bill, as a result of its share of the £754million end result, but it seems it could have been a lot more.”

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