Compensation for operators: Failed car tolls can cost taxpayers millions

Compensation for Operators
Failed car tolls can cost taxpayers millions

Scheuer is no longer Minister of Transport, but his inheritance could put a heavy strain on the Treasury: An arbitral tribunal has now decided that operators that Scheuer contracted for the failed car toll have a claim for damages from the federal government.

The failed passenger car toll could have an expensive aftermath for the taxpayer: The operating companies actually intended are entitled to damages from the Federal Republic, as the companies CTS Eventim and Kapsch TrafficCom announced, citing the decision of an arbitration tribunal. In the second phase of the arbitration that follows, the amount of the claim will be decided.

Kapsch TrafficCom and CTS Eventim founded the joint venture autoTicket GmbH for the car toll. The car toll – a CSU prestige project – was stopped in June 2019 by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as illegal. The intended operators are demanding 560 million euros in damages after the federal government terminated the contracts after the verdict. The federal government and the responsible Minister of Transport at the time, Andreas Scheuer, had rejected the claims, and arbitration proceedings followed. The arbitral tribunal confirmed that the claims asserted by autoTicket GmbH existed on the merits, the companies announced. This emerges from the interim arbitral award sent to the operator parties.

Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of Transport, was therefore not allowed to withdraw from the contract “unilaterally and without compensation”. The arbitral award also rejected the grounds for termination of poor performance alleged by the Federal Republic. A spokeswoman for the acting Federal Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, said on request: “We have not yet received a decision. As soon as this is done, we will carefully examine, evaluate and decide on how to proceed.” Because of the failed car toll, there was a committee of inquiry in the Bundestag in the last legislative period. The opposition at the time accused Scheuer of failure and serious violations of budgetary and public procurement law. Scheuer had always denied the allegations.

Operator contracts concluded at the end of 2018

In the final report of the committee of inquiry presented in spring 2021, it was said that the risk of the car toll failing completely before the ECJ “should have been given greater importance in the risk assessment”. It was also determined that “no case of lying, deliberate concealment or manipulation” by the ministry or the minister could be credibly proven.

The then opposition factions of the FDP, Greens and Left as well as AfD had each submitted their own special opinions with massive criticism of Scheuer. The fact that he concluded the operator contracts at the end of 2018, even before there was final legal certainty at the ECJ, was also in his sights. The U-Committee started work at the end of 2019 and heard Scheuer as a witness twice for hours.

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