Oh, I was wrong.
It appears to be an equivalent to part 17 in the inset exploded diagram.
Didn't make the connection at first, because it looks quite different in shape and style to the diagram's "circlip", but this C-shaped open ring is a retaining clip / securing ring.
It keeps the axle shaft from escaping the outer joint.
I don't know for sure, but it might be. If you look at the models which can use this part, there's a ton of them. It was used on a wide variety of VW/Audi lines from about 2000-2020. If you don't see the clip as you pulled your old one apart and it isn't in the diagram, I would not worry about it. Manufacturers often include a small part and even duplicate ...