Special investigation into EUGT studies concluded
- Group Audit finds no non-compliant conduct or infringements of relevance to labor law with regard to studies for the now disbanded European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT)
- Review of all Volkswagen test, study and research projects will be concluded in second half of this year
- Dr. Thomas Steg returns to his post as Head of Group External Relations at Volkswagen with immediate effect
The comprehensive special investigation conducted by Volkswagen Group Audit concludes there was no non-compliant conduct nor were any infringements of relevance to labor law committed by Volkswagen Group employees with regard to studies commissioned by the now disbanded legally independent entity European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (Europäische Forschungseinrichtung für Umwelt und Gesundheit im Transportsektor e.V., EUGT). The investigation paid particular attention to the processes in the run-up to a study involving monkeys conducted by a US research laboratory. Dr. Thomas Steg, who at his own request was temporarily suspended from his duties at the end of January, therefore returns to his post as Head of Group External Relations at Volkswagen with immediate effect.
“I was certain my conduct complied with labor law and regulations. Nevertheless, I have asked myself whether I could not have taken further action back in spring 2013 to prevent the test in the USA. I deeply regret I did not act differently at the time and apologize for that”, Thomas Steg said.
“The special investigation into EUGT unequivocally concluded there was no personal misconduct on the part of Dr. Thomas Steg. Nevertheless, he apologized both internally and publicly for not intervening. A good corporate culture must also allow the complete rehabilitation of employees once they have been exculpated following full clarification of an issue. I am therefore delighted that Dr. Thomas Steg can now resume his duties”, Hiltrud D. Werner, Board Member for Integrity and Legal Affairs at Volkswagen AG, commented.
“We will have concluded the wider independent review of all test, study and research projects in which the Company was or is directly or indirectly involved in the second half of this year”, she continued. This voluntary commitment by Volkswagen goes well beyond present compliance provisions and processes.
“Apart from the legal aspects, research projects and studies also always raise ethical and moral issues. Volkswagen emphatically rejects tests on animals. Animal testing in matters relating to transport and mobility is unnecessary and unacceptable unless required by law”, Werner added. Going forward, German ethics standards will be binding on all of the Volkswagen Group’s future research projects worldwide. In Germany alone, the Volkswagen Group has 1,290 cooperation projects with over 100 universities and more than 60 research institutes.