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EU starts legal action against Germany, UK for failing to act on diesel emissions

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(Read caption) A 2013 Volkswagen Passat with a diesel engine is evaluated at the California Air Resources Board emissions test lab in El Monte, Calif.

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The Volkswagen diesel scandal has led to numerous lawsuits against the German automaker in multiple countries.

But now regulatory agencies in European countries have become caught up in the legal fallout from VW's emissions cheating.

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The European Union began legal action Thursday against Germany, the U.K., and five other nations.

It's alleging regulators in these countries failed to adequately police emissions testing after the VW diesel scandal, according to Reuters.

The move is a response to what EU officials reportedly see as government collusion with the auto industry.

The European Commission accused Germany, the U.K., Spain, and Luxembourg of failing to introduce adequate penalties that would deter future emissions cheating similar to Volkswagen's use of illegal "defeat device" software in diesel cars.

It also accused Germany and the U.K. of failing to disclose the details of suspicious findings of their own national investigations into cheating—something EU regulators say is necessary to carry out the body's supervisory role.

The European Commission also said the Czech Republic, Greece, and Lithuania do not have provision in their national regulations for fines against automakers that violate emissions rules.

The Commission's statements against these countries constituted the first step in what is known as "infringement procedures," the process by which the EU ensures member nations adhere to bloc-wide regulations.

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Accused nations have two months to respond. If the issue is not resolved then, the EU may take them to court.

The U.K. plans to respond to the EU legal action, the nation's transport minister told Reuters.

German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said his country has already implemented "a comprehensive list of measures to prevent unauthorized use of defeat devices," claiming Germany is the only European country to do so.

Dobrindt previously came out in favor of having emissions tests handled by an independent EU agency, rather than individual nations.

That would make it harder for automakers to slip "defeat devices" past authorities, he argued.

He has also called for the tightening of a 2007 clause that allows "defeat device"-type software in order to protect engines.

This story originally appeared on GreenCarReports.