Emissions cartel: VW and BMW fined almost a billion
Volkswagen and BMW have been ordered to pay 875 million euros in fines to the EU for colluding with Daimler to restrict the size of their urea tanks in 2009, thus hindering competition. Urea mixtures improve exhaust gas purification and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Have the companies been let off too lightly, or are they being punished for normal and desirable cooperation?
The Spectator is appalled, saying the EU has let BMW and Volkswagen off far too lightly:
“For companies of this size, these sums are loose change. ... Not surprisingly the two firm's share prices have hardly moved. After all, the fines can be easily paid, will make little difference to their finances, and everyone can move on as if nothing has happened. … The EU likes to pretend it is a rules-based organisation, defending consumers, and protecting competition. But more often than not it protects a handful of European giants against everyone else. Volkswagen and BMW deserved serious punishment. Instead, Brussels has let them off the hook.”
What kind of cooperation does Brussels want?
For the Süddeutsche Zeitung the sentence raises certain questions:
“With the conclusion of the proceedings the discussions about dubious solutions to exhaust gas problems may have become apparent, and for the EU this already counts as a cartel. But there was no jointly orchestrated emissions fraud. In this respect, the fine seems rather excessive. ... What form should talks between European companies take in the future? The Commission is quite right to demand cooperation in all possible fields of technology ... . But with this fine the questions of what companies are allowed to discuss, with whom and how are even less clear than before. Here, too, Brussels must now provide clarity.”