Volkswagen Law Here to Stay - For Now

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volkswagen law here to stay for now

The much debated Volkswagen Law most likely will remain much debated for a while, says Automobilwoche [sub]. The matter is pending at the European Court of Justice, and no decision has been rendered, however, “an influential expert witness” (Automobilwoche) rendered the opinion that the current situation is within the law.

The expert adviser, Advocate General Nils Wahl, said in a written opinion that the European Court of Justice should reject the European Commission’s argument that Germany be fined for infringing EU laws.

“ECJ judges are expected to rule on the case in the next few months. Wahl’s opinion is not binding, though the judges follow such recommendations in a majority of cases,” says Reuters.

The Volkswagen law is an institutionalized poison pill. In its old form, the 20 percent shares held by the State of Lower Saxony had veto power, protecting Volkswagen from a hostile takeover. The EU sued, Germany lost in 2007. Volkswagen changed its stockholders agreement, which now says that important decisions need more than 80 percent of the voting shares. The bottom line is the same, however, Germany thought itself on the good side of the law. The EU Commission cried foul, and sued.

The suit is not between the EU and Volkswagen, it is between the EU and Germany.

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  • Vaujot Vaujot on May 29, 2013

    This is apparently a mistake in your source, but the advocate general is not an expert witness. To qoute Wikipedia: Advocates-General "The judges are assisted by eight Advocates-General who are responsible for presenting a legal opinion on the cases assigned to them. They can question the parties involved and then give their opinion on a legal solution to the case before the judges deliberate and deliver their judgement. The intention behind having Advocates-General attached is to provide independent and impartial opinions concerning the Court's cases. Unlike the Court's judgements, the written opinions of the Advocates-General are the works of a single author and are consequently generally more readable and deal with the legal issues more comprehensively than the Court, which is limited to the particular matters at hand. The AGs opinions are advisory and do not bind the Court, but they are nonetheless very influential and are followed in the majority of cases. As of 2003, Advocates-General are only required to give an opinion if the Court considers the case raises a new point of law."

  • Jpolicke Jpolicke on May 29, 2013

    Bertel, I'm counting on your knowledge to explain this: according to the Automobilwoche article (which may have been auto-translated poorly by Chrome) the VW law dates "back to the Nazi seizure of power, as Volkswagen was expropriated with union assets." How could the government seize something which it created in the first place? When did VW become a public corporation - wasn't it some time in the late 40's during the Allied occupation?

    • Th009 Th009 on May 29, 2013

      Volkswagen was first founded by Deutsche Arbeitsfront, the Nazi government-controlled union at the time. Maybe that's what Automobilwoche means? (Sorry, I don't have a subscription.) The British zone occupation government gave the company back to the German federal and state governments in 1948 after Henry Ford famously turned down the opportunity to take it ovr. The IPO (sale of the federal government's share) was in 1960.

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