A day ahead of a decision from the EU on the so-called ‘VW law’, Volkswagen’s works council has attacked the European Commission.


According to dpa-AFX, Bernd Osterloh, head of the Volkswagen works council, a decision against the VW law would be an “attack against the workforce”’ of the car manufacturer.


The law that dates back to 1960 says that no shareholder can exercise more than a fifth of VW’s voting rights no matter how many shares are owned. The European Union has been trying to overturn the law, which it sees as a barrier to the free movement of capital. The German government and the state of Lower Saxony maintain that the law conforms with EU laws.


Osterloh was reported as saying that a repeal of the law would against the social market economy principles of which Volkswagen is a symbol. It would be a “sacrifice” to the neo-liberalism of the European Commssion.


An advisor to the European Court of Justice, known as an advocate general, will present his position on the VW law in Luxembourg tomorrow and a judgement will follow later this year. The court is not bound by the decision of the advocate general, however it does usually follow his advice.


Porsche AG owns 27.4% of Volkwagen. According to Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, with a change in the law, Porsche could essentially have control of Volkswagen. Wiedeking supports a change in the law and has  said that because attendance at German annual general meetings tends to be so poor, it is not necessary to own 50% of the company to have control. As the largest shareholder, with a corresponding proportion of the voting rights, Porsche would essentially have control.


The state of Lower Saxony is Volkswagen’s second largest shareholder with a 20.8% stake. It maintains that stake for political reasons because Volkswagen is such a large employer in the state.


Osterloh said the law ensures that a variety of interests are represented equallly. He will not criticise Porsche’s shareholding or influence directly, since he sees this as preferable to Volkswagen being owned by a purely financial investor. Porsche is at least a local company with similar interests, and above all has a good understanding of the automotive industry and its issues.