Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

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.

MEPs call for end to 'social dumping' in road sector

The European Parliament said that future EU rules should put an end to unfair competition in the transport sector. But Eastern European MEPs fear this would undermine the single market.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us