October 12, 2017 / 8:43 AM / 8 days ago

Austria takes Germany to European court over road toll

New Austrian Infrastrucure Minister Joerg Leichtfried smiles before he was sworn in in the presidential office in Vienna, Austria, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria is taking Germany to the European Court of Justice over German plans for a road toll which would only apply to foreigners, Austrian Transport Minister Joerg Leichtfried said on Thursday.

The German toll applies to foreign-registered cars using the country’s highways at a cost of up to 130 euros ($154.21) a year. German drivers will be able to recover the costs through tax deductions.

“This is indirect discrimination on the basis of nationality,” Leichtfried said, adding that the EU Commission had missed a chance to create “fairness in Europe” by cancelling the German toll.

“This is about creating a (European Union) where the strength of the law counts and not the law of the stronger one.”

He said Austria had prepared a 30-page lawsuit which it will present to the ECJ, which is in charge of upholding EU law, on Thursday.

Constitutional lawyer Walter Obwexer, speaking alongside Leichtfried, said he expected the court to rule by the end of next year or early 2019.

The German parliament gave the road toll the green light in March but it is unlikely to come into effect before 2019.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Catherine Evans

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