Scheuer should be in the toll mangle

Scheuer should be in the toll mangle

For andreas scheuer, the trouble over the toll on cars is not going to end anytime soon – quite the opposite in fact. After the crashing failure of his CSU’s prestige project at the european court of justice (eugh), things are getting uncomfortable for the transport minister on two fronts at once.

The opposition parliamentary groups from the greens, the left and the FDP want to pave the way today for an investigative committee in the bundestag. And it is also expected that the experienced toll operators will soon be making demands on the federal government worth millions more.

What is it all about??

Scheuer actually wanted to start collecting tolls in october 2020. But in mid-june, the eugh overturned the whole plan after a complaint from austria – as many critics had predicted. There are to be no new battles over the actual toll model, which was only intended to impose an extra burden on drivers from outside germany. The minister is under acute pressure, especially because of the previous history: in october 2018, he awarded the contract to control the toll to the austrian company kapsch, and at the end of 2018, the contract to collect the toll was awarded to a consortium of kapsch and the german company CTS eventim – in other words, all before there was final legal certainty.

What are the core accusations against scheuer??

Specialized politicians from the opposition have already made various accusations. Scheuer sealed contracts worth billions with disadvantageous conditions for the federal government. The risk of a toll freeze by the eugh has been given too little consideration. The criticism also states that he had to arrange several meetings with operators that were not documented in files. "Scheuer’s behavior has really forced us to set up an investigative committee," says grunen expert stephan kuhn. Jorg cezanne (left) emphasizes: "if a minister causes considerable financial damage and then neither takes political responsibility nor ensures real transparency, a committee of inquiry is unavoidable."

What the minister says?

The CSU politician has switched to defense mode and assures us that he has nothing to hide. The declared line is "maximum possible transparency" in the processing and handling of tolls. The ministry is already demonstratively rolling small cars with files towards parliament and has meanwhile published numerous documents on the internet. On the question of why the contracts were concluded before the eugh ruling, they say there was a "clear mandate" from the legislature to implement the car toll as soon as possible in order to secure revenue for better traffic routes. And the EU commission had also given the green light for the toll. There has been risk management throughout the entire duration of the project.

Why an investigative committee??

A U-committee is traditionally an instrument of the opposition to take the federal government to task. The committee can subpoena witnesses and request files – often in quite a small amount of work. The exact scope of the investigation is also important. During the last election period, the CSU-led transport ministry was already the focus of a U committee. It was about controls and lobbying influence in the emissions scandal and the question of why this was not uncovered by german authorities. At least one explanation became clear: because they simply did not look for it. According to the government and the chancellor, they learned about the VW scandal from the media.

How it goes on?

For a committee of inquiry to be set up, the constitution stipulates that a quarter of all members of parliament must support a motion to that effect – currently 178 members. This is what the FDP, green and left-wing parliamentary groups, which together represent a total of 216 delegates, will be discussing on tuesday. The establishment of the committee must then be decided by the bundestag. The afd, as the largest opposition faction, has made it clear that it does not consider such a committee necessary. The prevented toll operators were then also curious about the parliamentary investigations. It is still unclear when they will present their demands – there is a threat of a legal tug-of-war.