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Brenner Pass: Italy beats Austria

The EU commission gives reason to Italy on the mobility restrictions to the state border

Italy was right for once. We talk about the Brenner and its implications in commercial traffic, with the obstructionism of Austria that wants to "dose" the passages to the pass and the consequent import problems, complained by several national organizations. Well, as the ministry of Transport points out in an official statement published on its website, "the EU Commission has adopted the opinion on the appeal lodged by Italy concerning the Austrian bans on the Brenner. On the basis of last February’s request, the Commission unequivocally censured all Austrian bans on traffic along the Brenner Corridor as contrary to the free movement of goods provided for in Articles 34 and 35 of the TFEU, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union". 

At this point, adds the note of the ministry, "Italy will proceed to formalize the appeal in the Court of Justice as provided by art. 259 of the Treaty to re-establish a legal framework favourable to businesses and protect the principle of freedom within the European Union". 

"The opinion of the Commission -concludes the ministerial note- therefore demonstrates the goodness of the position of the Italian Government that, on strong input of the Vice-President of the Council and Minister Matteo Salvini, decided to take the judicial path after years of discussions aimed at finding a negotiated solution, whipped by Austrian intransigence".

According to the EU Commission, some of the measures implemented by Vienna restrict the free movement of goods and "lack coherence". This is, in fact, the European Commission’s response to the proceedings initiated by Mr Salvini on 15 February last came on the last available day, yesterday 14 May. According to Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), "each Member State may bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union if it considers that another Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties".

In the just adopted opinion, the executive EU takes of target the additional prohibitions, beyond those already existing, of night circulation, of sectorial circulation for some goods with "railway affinity"of winter traffic on Saturdays and the rationing of heavy vehicles entering the motorway (known as "dosing"), imposed by Austria at the Brenner Pass from the second half of 2023. From there passes a good part of the Italian goods directed in Germany, with approximately 50 million tons of goods per year.

Having assessed the written and oral observations of both Member States, and "while acknowledging some explanations put forward by Austria in relation to environmental considerations", the Commission considers that the Austrian measures "lack coherence" and therefore cannot be "justified in their entirety" according to the achievement of the objectives set: environmental protection, road safety, traffic flow or security of supply.

According to the EU "reasoned opinion", "Austria has breached its obligations under Articles 34 and 35 TFEU". Our neighbours, according to the EU, have violated their obligations in three ways:

  1. adopting paragraphs 3 and 4 of the ordinance on the freeway A12 of the valley of the Inn, night prohibition for heavy vehicles LGBl. n. 64/2010 as last amended by the LGBT Ordinance. no. 141/2021 (ban on night transit), which prohibits the cross-border movement of certain heavy goods vehicles at certain hours of the night on a section of the A12 motorway";
  2. adopting paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Ordinance on the sectoral prohibition of movement LGBl. n. 44/2016 as last amended by the Ordinance LGBl. n. 48/2023 (sectoral traffic ban), which prohibits the transport of certain goods on a section of the A12 motorway by exempting Euro VI vehicles registered for the first time after 31 August 2018 from the ban;
  3. adopting the ordinance on the calendar of the winter prohibition of circulation 2023, BGBl. n. 3/2023 (winter traffic ban), which prohibits the movement of certain heavy goods vehicles on the A12 and A13 motorways to Italy or Germany, or to a 34 country to be reached via Italy or Germany, in all days of Saturday of the winter months from 7.00 to 15.00.

According to the EU opinion, "Austria has breached its obligations under Article 34 TFEU by taking measures limiting the number of lorries allowed to enter the A12 motorway near Kufstein (dosing system) to a maximum of 300 vehicles per hour on certain days".

"It is an important result that confirms the solidity of the reasons posed by Italy, by minister Salvini, during the confrontation - declares Alessandro Peron, General secretary Fiap, Italian Federation haulers-. Theses and reasons that the Federation has promoted and supported in national and international, especially in the IRU. There are, however, some points in the opinion that need to be noted and clarified. We will read again with the right punctuality all the elements contained in the document, guaranteeing our support and the maximum collaboration with the Government and the Institutions interested in the analysis and the consequent evaluations".

Minister Salvini also sings victory and even those who have long stood against the Austrian decision sing victory. As Coldiretti that, in a press release, emphasizes: "the stop of the EU commission to the limitations imposed from Austria to the passage of the goods to the Brenner is important in order to save the Italian enterprises of all the productive fields from a draft from 250 million Euros per year", citing estimates based on Sigma Nl data. 

"The Brenner -adds the organization- represents in channel today irreplaceable for the flow of national products to Europe that threatens to be stifled by the limits to circulation that weigh on the economy and work. Just think that through the Alps transit Italian agri-food exports to the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor that counts Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and three Eastern European countries, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic".

"Germany -concludes the note Coldiretti- is the main destination in Europe and the world of Italian food and drink, worth more than 10 billion, up 8% in 2023: delays in transit linked to the decision of Austria, which threatens to further reduce the steps, weigh especially on the most perishable products such as national fruit and vegetables".

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EFA News - European Food Agency