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01 August 2018
The claimant in a recent case was a recognised environmental association. Its statutory purpose is to:
The respondent was the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
In view of the Regulation on Exceptions to Road Traffic Regulations for Vehicles and Vehicle Combinations with Excess Length, the respondent:
The claimant sought a declaration that introducing gigaliners to regular operation and extending the trial operation of certain extra-long trucks was illegal. Fearing a shift from rail to road transport, the claimant held that the regulation violates EU Directive 96/53/EC, which regulates the maximum permissible dimensions of trucks in national and international traffic.
The Berlin Administrative Court considered the action admissible but unfounded.
As a recognised environmental association, the claimant was entitled to bring the action based on European Court of Justice case law since the legal protection it sought also concerned the environment. However, the action was unfounded because the transport regulation does not violate EU Directive 96/53/EC.
Article 288(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that the directive is binding on each EU member state to which it is addressed as regards the objective to be achieved, but leaves the choice of form and means to the national authorities. Further, the more open and indefinite the provisions of the directive are, the more open and indeterminate the national legal situation can be. Based on these provisions, the challenged provisions in the transport regulation proved to be lawful and compliant with EU Directive 96/53/EC.
As regular operation is permitted only for the predominant transport of cargo with a limited volume-to-mass ratio (density), point-to-point transport or transport circulations, the court held that the permission conformed with EU Directive 96/53/EC. In accordance with Article 4(4) of EU Directive 96/53/EC, EU member states may permit vehicles or vehicle combinations intended for transport within the framework of national transport activities which do not significantly affect international competition in the transport sector to circulate on their territory even if they have dimensions which differ from the values in Paragraphs 1.1, 1.2, 1.4 to 1.8, 4.2 and 4.4 of Annex I. However, member states must ensure that the specificity of the national transposition legislation complies with the requirements of the directive. In the present case, the Berlin Administrative Court found this to be true.
The court found that the time limit extension to register Type 1 long trucks until 31 December 2023 also complied with EU Directive 96/53/EC. According to Article 4(5) of the directive, EU member states may permit vehicles or combinations of vehicles based on new technologies or concepts which cannot comply with one or more requirements of this directive to be used in certain local traffic areas during a trial period.
Despite the test phase extension from five to seven years, the transport regulation conforms with the directive since the latter does not specify a maximum test phase duration. It must therefore be determined whether there is still a need for a further series of tests.
Given the significance of the matter, the court allowed both the appeal and the revision to the Federal Administrative Court Act.
The Berlin Administrative Court ruled that the transport regulation did not violate EU Directive 96/53/EC and therefore the regular operation of extra-long trucks can continue.
While this judgment strengthens the road transport route, given that the operation of extra-long trucks is limited by the density of the cargo, the use of gigaliners might not affect competition with rail transport.
Generally, this judgment is a positive sign for the entire transport industry in Germany since increased competition and alternative modes of transport are widely beneficial.
For further information on this topic please contact Claas Jonas Brockmeyer or Marco G Remiorz at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein by telephone (+49 40 31 779 70) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or m. email@example.com). The Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein website can be accessed at www.asd-law.com.
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