EC Refers Germany to Court over Discriminatory Road Charging
OREANDA-NEWS. The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU regarding the plan of the German authorities to introduce a road charging scheme for private vehicles (PKW-Maut) which, according to the Commission, is discriminatory.
The German legislation grants vehicles registered in Germany the benefit of a 1:1 deduction of the road charge from their annual vehicle tax bill. This would lead to a 'de facto' exemption from the charge exclusively for the cars registered in Germany. Moreover, prices for short-term vignettes (for periods of less than a year), which are intended for use by vehicles registered abroad only, are disproportionality high in some cases.
While the Commission supports fair and efficient pricing in transport – as it reiterated in the recent European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility, the Commission considers that the German system fails to comply with the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) principles of non-discrimination based on nationality and the free movement of goods and services. The German legislation is found not to be in line with those principles.
Despite numerous exchanges with the German authorities since November 2014, the Commission's fundamental concerns have not been addressed. The Commission is therefore referring Germany to the Court of Justice of the EU.
It is the prerogative of the Member States to decide to introduce road charges for Heavy Goods Vehicles and passenger cars. If a Member State wishes to make foreign users pay for the use of national roads that charge must apply to all users - foreigners and the Member State's own nationals alike. A key requirement of non-discriminatory road charges is that all users pay the same charge for using roads. Introducing a road charge for foreigners only, in law or in fact, would be discriminatory and run against the EU treaties.