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The European Union's highest court has ruled plans to charge foreign drivers a toll to use Germany's motorways – worth €2bn to a Eventim-backed consortium – are illegal
By Jon Chapple on 18 Jun 2019
CTS Eventim has said its lawyers are looking into the ramifications of a European court of justice (ECJ) ruling that found a planned German motorway toll – to be collected by a company 50% owned by Eventim – is in violation of European Union law.
The ECJ ruled this morning (18 June) that the toll, which would have been levied entirely on drivers from other EU member states, is illegal because it discriminates against foreign vehicles and violates EU rules on freedom of movement. Austria, with the support of the Netherlands, had brought a legal challenge against Germany after the latter effectively exempted its own drivers from the annual €130 charge by cutting their car tax by the same amount.
“This is the right signal for fairness in the EU,” Austrian infrastructure minister Andreas Reichhardt told reporters after the ECJ delivered its judgment. “I wouldn’t want to contemplate the implications if this precedent would have prevailed.”
A consortium jointly owned by CTS Eventim and Kapsch TrafficCom, a supplier of electronic toll-collection systems, was awarded the contract to collect the charge last December. The contract – initially for 12 years, with an option for a three-year extension – is worth more than €2 billion.
Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg told IQ in February that the German government’s decision to award CTS Eventim the contract shows Europe’s concert ticketing leader is “capable of successfully transferring our existing technology and ecommerce expertise to new lines of business”.
In a statement released following the ECJ ruling, a CTS spokesperson says it is “examining the implications”, and suggested the consortium’s contract with Germany’s ministry of transport contains provisions that protect it against financial losses.
“We and our partner Kapsch TrafficCom have been working together since the end of last year to ensure that the infrastructure charge can begin as planned,” it reads. “In consultation with our client, we are now examining the implications of the ECJ ruling for our collaboration.
“In consultation with our client, we are now examining the implications of the ECJ ruling for our collaboration”
“Our contracts contain protective provisions that guard against pecuniary damages for the operating company and its shareholders. These also apply in case the infrastructure charge should not be introduced.”
According to the Austria Press Agency, Kapsch has also said it is protected by its contract, and “won’t make [a] loss” as a result of the ECJ decision.
The ECJ’s ruling came as a surprise to German authorities, who had earlier reached a compromise with EU regulators by agreeing to fund the relief for German drivers out of their car tax, rather than exempting them from the charge altogether.
However, the court sided with Austria’s argument that the revised system still discriminates against citizens of other EU states. “The charge is discriminatory since the economic burden of the charge falls, de facto, solely on the owners and drivers of vehicles registered in other member states,” reads the ruling.
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