Fleet News

Court backs cross-border trade as VW fine is upheld

THE European Court of First Instance (ECFI) has backed fleets looking to acquire cars in another member state.

Last month the ECFI ordered Volkswagen Group to pay a fine of €90 million after upholding an European Commission decision that found VW and Audi guilty of restricting cross-border trade.

EC verdicts are due later this year in similar infringement proceedings involving DaimlerChrysler and Opel Netherlands. The Commission is also investigating claims that Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen have obstructed the sale of vehicles to foreign customers.

VW said it was considering whether to continue its appeal, having lost this latest petition against the Commission's original verdict and €102 million fine.

The ECFI ruled that VW had been guilty of 'a very serious infringement of European Union competition rules', but did reduce VW's fine to €90 million.

EC Competition Commissioner Mario Monti described the verdict as a victory for consumers and said: 'The possibility to buy goods at better prices in other member states is indeed one of the key advantages of the single market.

'Carmakers have some latitude in the way they choose to organise their distribution networks, but the rules also give consumers the unalterable right to buy, either directly through an authorised intermediary, a car in the member state of their choice.'

Both Volkswagen AG and Audi AG, and their wholly-owned Italian importer Autogerma SpA, had prevented Italian dealers from selling cars to foreign buyers, particularly German and Austrian customers.

Monti said the court's judgement would encourage the EC to pursue other cases of this type. (August 2000)

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