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Change Must Succeed

inside interview with Thomas Meiers, Head of the Central Coordination Monitor.

Keeping the threads together: Thomas Meiers is responsible for working at the interface between the Monitor team and the company.

The monitorship of Larry D. Thompson and his US team at Volkswagen has been scheduled to last three years. The first half is over, but there’s still plenty of work to do. The monitor made further recommendations in his second report from February 8. The implementation deadline is in 120 days. inside spoke with Thomas Meiers (48), who heads the Central Coordination Monitor. In this role, he is responsible for working at the interface between the Monitor team and the company.

What makes Volkswagen’s monitoring tasks so complex?
Larry D. Thompson has a double mandate – as monitor and auditor. For our team and the specialist departments involved in the Group, this means: two work plans, two approaches to the procedure and two reporting lines. Not only individual specialist departments are affected, but also many aspects throughout the Group – with numerous brands, regions, and subsidiaries. Third: the sheer complexity of the Volkswagen Group challenges us every day.

How does it show in everyday life that Volkswagen gives top priority to monitoring?
The Executive Board have made this a matter for the top-level management. At numerous meetings and written examinations, they have dealt intensively with this issue and significantly strengthened the Group’s Integrity and Legal department in terms of personnel. Additional compliance experts were hired in the relevant specialist areas. This enabled us, for example, to further develop the existing whistleblower system more quickly. In addition, the Executive Board has adopted the Group-wide “Together4Integrity” program as the umbrella for all measures relating to integrity, compliance, and cultural change. Like the Group strategy, Together4Integrity is geared to the year 2025, not just to the end of our monitoring. Of course, everyone is aware of how much depends on us succeeding in effecting change. The objectives are defined and the packages of measures put together. Everyone is working hard to make the necessary changes. But with a hulk like the Volkswagen Group, this isn’t going to happen overnight.

"The Monitor’s recommendations will help us make Volkswagen an even better, more ethical company"

 Thomas Meiers, Head of Central Coordination Monitor

The monitoring is scheduled until June 2020. What is Volkswagen like today, and what is the timetable until 2020?
In the last few months, we have reached some important milestones, collected a lot of material and organized discussions for the monitor. At the end of March 2018, the Independent Compliance Monitor issued its initial review report, and the Group had to implement its recommendations in just 150 days. The recommendations from the second report, the first follow-up report from February 8, must be implemented within a period of only 120 days. These reports are confidential and will not be published. At the same time, Thompson’s team produced a second report in August 2018, which evaluates us in terms of compliance and the environment. This can also be viewed online via a link on the corporate website. And we’re preparing for the second auditor report of the Independent Compliance Auditor, which will be published in August 2019. 

There is still much to do and much to achieve. But above all, we see monitoring as an opportunity, and will draw the right conclusions for the future viability of the Group. We are convinced that the Monitor’s recommendations will help us make Volkswagen an even better, more ethical company.