German carmaker Volkswagen (VLKAY) breached EU consumer laws in 20 European Union member countries by cheating on emissions tests, Germany's Die Welt newspaper reported on Monday, citing European Commission sources.
In the U.S., the company is already defending itself against a growing number of class-action lawsuits related to the 'Dieselgate' scandal and now faces a wave of potential damages claims in Europe as well, the paper reported.
Vera Jourova, the EU's commissioner for justice, consumers, and gender equality, told Die Welt that she had written to national consumer protection authorities in 20 EU countries to gather more information on the situation.
"We have received replies from all EU member states which we are currently analyzing in detail," Jourova is quoted as saying. "One thing is for sure: Volkswagen has clearly breached European consumer laws in mot member states."
It was not clear what action the EC would take if the breaches are confirmed, only that they should "intervene at European level in a coordinated manner," she added.
Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Monday, Jourova said she plans to meet with representatives of national consumer organizations this Thursday to discuss how to better protect consumers, and with national egulators at a later date and with VW itself at the company's request.
"This is only the start of the Commission's action," she said, adding that "it is not my intention to come with a strong action without fair communication with the company."
In particular, she said the EC will be looking at possible breaches of EU laws governing commercial practices and sales and guarantees, which have set "high standards" for all member states to enforce the rules.
VW shares were up 0.4% on Monday afternoon in Frankfurt at €131.85, putting its market capitalization at around €64.9 billion ($72.35 billion). The stock has a one-year return of minus 17.43%.