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French finance minister calls for Europe-wide probe after Volkswagen revelations

VW dealership in Hamburg, Germany Reuters/Fabian Bimmer/Files

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin has called for a Europe-wide inquiry after revelations that Volkswagen placed secret software in cars to dodge US pollution tests. The German carmaker's shares fell four per cent at opening in Frankfurt on Tuesday morning, following a 17 per cent fall on Monday.

"We are in a European market, with European rules that need to be respected and that have been broken in the US," Sapin told Europe 1 radio.

"Even if it's just to reassure each other, it seems necessary to carry them out also on French carmakers," he said, although he said he had no "particular reason" to suspect them of wrongdoing.

According to US authorities, Volkswagen has admitted equipping about 482,000 diesel cars with software that turns off pollution controls, except when they are undergoing emission tests.

 "This is not a minor subject, it's not about speed or the quality of leather," Sapin said. "What we are dealing with is making sure people avoid being poisoned by pollution."

The German authorities have already announced that there will be an investigation into whether Volkswagen or other companies are doing anything similar in Europe.

Volkswagen's share value fell 4.0 per cent on the Frankfurt opened on Tuesday.

It fell 17.0 per cent on Monday, bringing the year's total fall to 29.0 per cent.

Volkswegen is the largest European carmaker.