tuesday, 18 june of 2019

Law

German Highway Toll Ruled Illegal and Discriminatory by EU Court

Austria won a European Union court fight over a planned German motorway toll on cars which the Alpine nation said would discriminate against foreign vehicle owners and violate EU rights guaranteeing the free movement.

“The charge is discriminatory since the economic burden of the charge falls, de facto, solely on the owners and drivers of vehicles registered in other member states,” the EU Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. The decision can’t be appealed.

EU regulators took Germany to court a year before Austria, using similar arguments that the plans for a highway toll on cars were discriminatory. While the EU then struck a compromise with Germany, Austria sued in 2017, partly over the discriminatory nature of the system by which German-registered car owners could claim a tax relief on the so-called infrastructure charge. The highway toll has so far not yet been applied.

The EU judges said Germany can’t apply the charge as it stands now. The country failed to justify the legality of the system that charges German car owners the toll, but then allows them to benefit from a tax relief “in an amount that is at least equivalent to the amount paid with respect to that charge.”

Germany’s decision to move to a financing system based on the “user pays” and “polluter pays” principles “in reality affects exclusively the owners and drivers of vehicles” registered in other EU nations, the court ruled.

(Published by Bloomberg, June 18 2019)
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