A settlement covering Volkswagen 2.0-liter TDI diesel cars sold in the U.S. with emissions-cheating "defeat device" software recently received preliminary approval from a federal judge.

The settlement gives owners a choice of selling their cars back to VW, or waiting to see if modifications to bring them into compliance with emissions standards will be approved.

But European TDI owners get no such deal.

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Volkswagen has not devised any compensation plan for European owners, and until now, there has been relatively little legal pressure to force the company to do so.

European consumer groups and the European Union government are now working together to get VW offer some compensation to owners, Reuters reports.

Volkswagen plans to modify cars so that they comply with the relevant European emissions standards, and it claims that this will ensure owners do not suffer a loss of value.

But that does not address the value that affected cars have likely lost since news of VW's cheating broke in September, or the fact that VW was deceptive in marketing the cars to consumers as fully compliant.

The EU Commissioner for Justice has sent a letter to each of the national consumer-protection authorities in the 28 EU member countries last week.

The goal is for the EU government to gather information on how individual authorities are dealing with the VW scandal, and how efforts might be coordinated.

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Plans for a coordinated effort will reportedly be discussed at a meeting in Brussels in September.

The EU government has limited authority to take action on behalf of consumers; such action is now primarily the responsibility of each national government in member states.

Consumer groups in Belgium, Spain, and Italy have already started campaigns on behalf of consumers, but other countries do not have similar resources, according to Reuters.

2015 Volkswagen Passat (European-spec)

2015 Volkswagen Passat (European-spec)

Large-scale consumer settlements are also more difficult in Europe because many countries lack an equivalent to U.S. class-action lawsuits that can group many consumer complaints into a single legal action.

Meanwhile, the U.S. settlement cannot be implemented until it receives final approval, which will only come after an October 18 hearing.

MORE: VW diesel owners not happy with offers, communications: survey

Buybacks can begin after that point, but Volkswagen must separately get any modifications approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) before they can be rolled out.

A separate settlement must also be devised for 85,000 affected TDI models with 3.0-liter V-6 engines.

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