The ECJ has ruled that the planned car toll in Germany discriminates against foreign drivers and violates EU law.
On 18 June 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the planned passenger car toll in Germany violated EU law in response to a complaint by Germany’s EU neighbours Austria and the Netherlands. In the opinion of the European Court of Justice, the toll is discriminatory because it in fact only burdens the owners and drivers of vehicles registered in other EU states. The toll also violates the principles of the free movement of goods and services in the EU internal market.
The reason for the infringements is that the user charge for German residents should be offset by a lower vehicle tax. Austria has therefore accused Germany of discriminating against other nationals and requested infringement proceedings in October 2017. Since December 2018, the complaint has been negotiated before the ECJ. However, the ruling ultimately came as a surprise: At the beginning of 2019, a leading expert at the ECJ still considered the German car toll to be legal. Advocate General Nils Wahl therefore recommended that the judges in Luxembourg reject Austria’s action against the plans of the Federal Government. In his view, Austria’s reasoning was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “discrimination”. However, the judges did not follow this view.
The failed car toll has already cost the federal government around 54 million EUR. Other costs, such as potential claims for damages by the toll operators Kapsch and the ticket seller CTS Eventim or the already planned toll revenues, have not yet been taken into account.
Source: ECJ: C-591/17, German and European Press