German hauliers go to court over energy taxes

Five firms represent national industry in battle against government's ecological tax reform

The German road haulage industry has taken legal action against the government alleging that rising fuel prices introduced under its ecological tax reform programme are unconstitutional. Five haulage companies are representing the industry in a lawsuit lodged at the national constitutional court in Karlsruhe, haulage industry association BGL said yesterday.

The firms claim that stage one of the ecotaxes, introduced in April 1999, and stage two, introduced at the beginning of this year, under which fuel prices will increase by euros 0.03 (DM 0.06) per year for the next five years (ENDS Daily 26 November 1999), are illegal in several ways. The taxes affect hauliers' ability to compete on an equal footing as well as their freedom to carry out their work and own property, they say. The firms, from North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, also claim that the mineral oil tax increases are at odds with Germany's finance and tax laws.

Manufacturing firms using heat and power from mineral oil, as well as local public and rail transport, are given tax relief under the ecotax laws for "no objective reason", BGL adds. It alleges that a "massive burden" has been placed on the haulage industry, which it claims is already being displaced by foreign competition.

Follow Up:
BGL, tel: +49 69 79190.

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