Transport: Austrian motorway tollst

United Kingdom
The Commission has taken Austria to court over toll increases on Austria's Brenner motorway. It says that the toll increases are both discriminatory and a clear infringement of the European Toll Road User Charge Directive.

The initial toll took effect on 1 July 1995 and was notified to the Commission in May 1995. A second increase was notified in January 1996. This almost doubled the toll on the heaviest vehicles. Austria has justified the increases as a means of protecting the Alpine environment.

The current Directive allows for the charging of higher tolls to reflect higher construction or development costs of a road. It also states that if a Member State already charges user tolls, as in Austria, the introduction of tolls can be justified only for certain exceptional types of infrastructure (bridges, tunnels, passes) and not for the entire motorway system.

The Commission also argues that the increases are discriminatory because more than two-thirds of total Brenner heavy goods vehicle traffic is transit traffic, of which at least 90% is by vehicles which are not registered in Austria.

It is now for the European Court of Justice to decide the matter.