German 'Autobahnvignette' in violation of EU law - ITEM research confirmed

The Court of Justice of the European Union stops the planned tax. Two years ago, the research institute ITEM concluded in a study within the framework of the annual Cross-border impact assessment that the German Autobahn toll is legally questionable and in breach of European law.

In today's judgment (C-591/17 Austria/Germany), the Court found that the combination of the infrastructure charge and the exemption from car tax enjoyed by holders of vehicles registered in Germany constitutes indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality and is contrary to the principles of the free movement of goods and services.

This confirms the conclusions of ITEM. ITEM researchers Martin Unfried and Barbara Hamacher had not only identified the legal problems at the time, but also, and above all, the adverse effects on the border regions. It was noted that the proposed toll would penalise the inhabitants of border regions in particular, not only in neighbouring countries (e.g. commuters and companies), but also in Germany itself. For example, people living on roads with a sudden increase in traffic and entrepreneurs would have to bear the negative consequences of tolls. In addition, the study described a fundamental drawback of the German plan: the German toll would slow down the introduction of an EU-wide, kilometre-dependent solution, as proposed by the European Commission years ago, rather than help it forward. The current ruling of the European Court of Justice now offers the opportunity to find integrated solutions. This is particularly good news for border regions.

  Download the ITEM dossier on the Potential effects of the German toll on the border regions

View the judgement from the Court of Justice of the European Union​

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