Brussels, 07/11/2014 (Agence Europe) - German plans for an annual motorway toll sticker will unquestionably struggle to hold sway at Community level.
The president of the Parliamentary committee on transport (TRAN) had very little good to say about it, and the new Commission is not looking like being any more flexible, particularly as regards the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality or place of residence guaranteed by the Treaty of the EU.
“Populist aberration”, says Cramer. The German Green MEP Michael Cramer, who chairs the TRAN committee, sees the project as nothing less than a “road toll for foreigners”. Although it will be obligatory for all drivers, including foreign ones, to buy the toll sticker before driving on German federal roads, the payment will be compensated with a tax rebate for German residents paying road tax (EUROPE 11189). In recent days, Cramer has been highly critical of the initiative in the German media. He also told EUROPE that the objective pursued by Berlin was “anti-European by definition”. He went on to explain that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice clearly shows that the plan is illegal. Cramer therefore opposes what he calls a “dangerous attempt to undermine the fundamental values of the European Union”. “We need intelligent solutions for the financing of our infrastructures, not populist aberration”, he added. He called upon the Commission, in its position as Guardian of the Treaties, to reject the plans.
Legal assessment. The Commission continues to express reservations on the subject, pending a final version of the bill (and its legislative approval). The outgoing Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, hinted that the plan was “along the right lines” (EUROPE 11186). However, the new competent Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, is expected to be less favourable to the idea, according to a European source. It is expected that the Commission will ultimately forge its position on the basis of a legal assessment of a possible discrimination based on nationality. The 'Juncker' Commission will stand firm on the subject. Although it is very much in favour of the 'user pays' principle, it will not permit any infringement of the principle of non-discrimination. (MD)
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