NEWS: Austria says it will exhaust all legal channels in the fight against the German ‘foreigner vignette’ but is unlikely to able to prevent or delay its introduction.
Plus, a drive-in check-in high in the Austrian Alps, two Danish traffic police are accused of ripping off tourists, Transalpina IS open for drivers this year, a truck driver has started a Number 10 petition to tackle the migrant situation at Calais, a heart warming story from a Cyprus filling station, another scrap at the Bulgaria-Turkey border, Helsinki plans to make cars obsolete, and the European Transport Safety Council takes umbrage at two reports which do not recommend mandatory alcolocks for professional drivers.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: delays built up to an estimated three hours early afternoon before quickly settling down to around 30mins. Quiet morning and evening.
AUSTRIA LEGAL ACTION CANNOT DELAY GERMAN ‘FOREIGNER VIGNETTE’
European Court cases can only be brought after new law is on the books and EU has had its say.
Austria says it will take Germany to the European Court over the ‘foreigner vignette’ though any case cannot delay or prevent the scheme’s introduction.
The respective transport ministers Doris Bures and Alexander Dobrindt met in Vienna today specifically to discuss the new toll. The meeting was described as ‘cordial but determined’.
At a press conference afterwards Dobrindt told Austrian TV channel ATV that, ‘We stick to our plans’.
Meanwhile, Bures said she would ‘exhaust all legal channels’ in the fight against the vignette, telling journalists, ‘For me this is a question of fairness and justice, both are non-negotiable. It’s my job to make sure Austrian motorists are not discriminated against.’
It emerged that Austria can only bring a case to the ECJ when the ‘foreigner vignette’ is on German law books and the European Commission has raised no objections. It is by no means certain the EC will object. Any legal action after that is likely to take eighteen months according to reports.
Dobrint published his plans earlier this month. The legislation will be debated in the German parliament after the summer break and is due to come into effect in 2016.
The meeting coincided with a new report by European Law expert Walter Obwexer at the University of Innsbruck. Obwexer says the coupling of the vignette and the corresponding cut in motoring taxes for German drivers made it ‘indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality’. However he also says it would be legal if it could be justified on environmental grounds, for instance.
The two transport ministers meet again in the autumn.
roundup: DENMARK. Two traffic police have been charged with corruption according to local reports. The two are alleged to have pocketed on-the-spot fines taken from tourists. The case is described as unusual and ‘unDanish’. ROMANIA. After some tooing and froing, national roads admin CNADR says the Transalpina high altitude road is open for drivers this year. The road has found itself in limbo after the construction company charged with its renovation went bust amid a financial scandal earlier this year with work left incomplete. There is still confusion however over whether just the southern portion – between Bengesti and Ranca – is open though Evo’s Henry Catchpole had no trouble evading the signs on a visit last year. CALAIS. Truckers concerned about the migrant’s camp at Calais have launched a Number 10 petition. Drivers frequently find themselves swamped with so-called ‘clandestines’ as they wait for ferries. As well as safety worries over the increasingly desperate ways in which the migrants attempt to conceal themselves in and around vehicles, drivers are also concerned about the massive fines (£10,000+) they can incur for facilitating illegal entry into the UK. They want increased security at Calais and some leeway from the authorities. Read the full story in Commercial Motor, and/or sign the petition here. Meanwhile, thelocal.fr reports the number of migrants arrested at Calais has doubled so far this year with 7,000 taken into custody in the six months to June. CYPRUS. Heart-warming story about a petrol station owner spending hours searching for a customer who paid €20 too much for fuel. It happens a lot apparently: one person pays the attendant at the pump while the other pays inside the shop. BULGARIA-TURKEY. More trouble at the (main) Kapitan Andreevo border point after scrap dealers blocked the road way in a row over new rules, again. The same thing happened yesterday. Private persons are no longer allowed to sell scrap to licenced companies reports Novinite. Kalotina has been affected but not blocked. FINLAND. Capital Helsinki will render cars obsolete by 2025 with a new system of public, shared and on-demand transport, all booked by smartphone, ‘so cheap, flexible and well co-ordinated it competes with cars on cost, convenience and ease of use’ reports the Guardian. ALCOHOL. Two new reports are ‘supportive of further measures to boost the use of alcohol interlocks in passenger and goods vehicles in the EU but stop short of recommending mandatory use on cost grounds’. That’s short sighted says the ETSC, European Transport Safety Council.