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German transport ministry planning lawsuit against Austria

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 25, 2019
The German Ministry of Transport is planning to file a lawsuit against Austria in a dispute over several transport issues, German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said.
Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer
European businesses   Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer
The Austrian state of Tyrol frequently restricts the number of trucks that come from Bavaria and pass through Innsbruck to 300 per hour in order to relieve the pressure on its own motorway.

For several days now, the Austrian state of Tyrol has also been trying to stop diversionary traffic in order to keep drivers on the motorway even if there are traffic jams.

Only Austrian residents and tourists who wanted to spend their holidays near the exit were being allowed to drive through.

These restrictions on both trucks and cars were "deeply discriminating," said German transport minister Andreas Scheuer on Monday.

Austrian officials have said that this is necessary, among other things, to protect the population from exhaust fumes and noise.

As a result of the measures, trucks are often jammed on German roads for many kilometers in front of the Austrian border. On Saturday, 350 drivers from Germany were sent back from a single exit from the important Brenner highway which connects Germany and Austria within four hours.

"I can only reject this behavior in the strongest possible terms," Scheuer added, after announcing his intention to file a legal complaint against Austria.

The lawsuit will now be discussed in the German coalition government, noted German transport minister Scheuer on the fringes of the CSU board meeting in Munich on Monday.

There was not yet an exact timetable and for the complaint to be filed, the cabinet of CDU/CSU and the German social democrats (SPD) still needed to agree to the plans of the CSU minister.

Leader of the Bavarian conservatives (CSU) Markus Soeder described Tyrol's behavior as "disappointing" and supported the lawsuit proposed by German transport minister Scheuer.

The traffic restrictions in Tyrol were "incomprehensible," added Alexander Dobrindt, head of the CSU parliamentary faction in the Bundestag.

Austria was recently successful in pursuing a legal complaint against a planned passenger car toll in Germany.

Last Tuesday, the judges at the European Court of Justice ruled that the German scheme to charge motorway users was not compatible with EU law and discriminated against vehicle owners from abroad.

German transport minister Scheuer responded to the ruling, saying that "It is not my place to criticize the judgment. I have to accept it".

In contrast, CSU politician Soeder criticized that it could not be the case that "Austria is of the opinion that a German toll hampers freedom of travel, and that at the same time it blocks transit".