Monday

18th Dec 2017

Austria ready to take German toll road plan to court

  • Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are not convinced by Germany's changes to its controversial road toll scheme. (Photo: Oli)

The transport ministers of Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands demand clarifications from the European Commission over its endorsement of a German scheme to charge drivers, with Austria being ready to challenge in court what it considers a discriminatory toll.

The ministers have outlined their demands during a meeting in Luxembourg on Wednesday (7 June), in the run-up to Thursday's transport council.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The commission had opened an infringement procedure against the German scheme, saying it had been introduced together with another law, ensuring that vehicles registered in Germany benefited from a deduction of the road charge from their annual vehicle tax bill.

"This 1:1 deduction of the vehicle tax from the road charge would lead to a de facto exemption from the charge, exclusively for cars registered in Germany," the commission said at the time.

But EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan told MEPs last month that the commission had closed its probe on 17 May, after Germany passed laws in March to amend the toll, which will come into place in 2019.

"The commission came to the conclusion that these laws have addressed its concerns by removing discrimination based on nationality. Of course, the commission will now continue to monitor the correct implementation of this law, and the application of this law is very important," said Hogan, speaking on behalf of his colleague, transport commissioner Violeta Bulc.

But the three countries are not convinced by this explanation, with Austrian transport minister Joerg Leichtfried saying that the road toll plan, even in its revised form, could still discriminate against "all non-Germans" and wants the issue to be clarified by the European Court of Justice, the EU's court.

The issue would first, however, need to be subject to a mediation procedure with the commission, which is already underway according to Leichtfried, and will take approximately three months.

The three transport ministers are asking the EU executive for a written statement as to why it suspended the probe against Germany.

Leichtfried expressed doubts about achieving a positive result in the mediation procedure, and criticised the commission in an interview with Passauer Neue Presse, a German newspaper.

"It is a poor test that the EU commission, which was [meant] to be the guardian of the treaties, collapsed in front of large countries," he said.

The commission is unlikely to act on the issue before the German parliamentary elections in September.

Austria will head for the polling booths a month after that, and a tough stance against Germany and Brussels could help the ruling parties, including Leichtfried's social democrats.

Investigation

Why doesn't the EU have a road transport agency?

There are EU agencies covering maritime transport, aviation, and railways, but road transport never got its own. Some MEPs are now advocating one, to the chagrin of many member states.

EU set to probe Ikea tax affairs

Swedish founded furniture retailer Ikea has reportedly been targeted by the European Commission, which is set to launch an investigation into how tax schemes in the Netherlands allegedly enabled it to avoid paying into public coffers.

News in Brief

  1. EU-UK Brexit trade deal by January 2021, official says
  2. Bitcoin is 'deadly', Danish central bank warns
  3. EU Commission wants to ban 'legal weed'
  4. France files €10m complaint against Amazon
  5. EU negotiators reach deal on 'circular economy'
  6. Poll: Tight race in Catalonia days before elections
  7. EU: Israel built 8,000 settler homes in six months
  8. China agrees to promote London as centre for yuan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  3. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  4. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  5. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  6. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  7. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  10. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  11. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  12. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?