Germany slams planned Brenner blockade

Threatened closure of key European motorway would violate EU, international, law, says Klimmt

German transport minister Reinhardt Klimmt today castigated plans by Austrian NGOs to block the key Brenner motorway on Friday and Saturday. The road is an important Alpine link between Italy and Germany and a major continental trade route. Mr Klimmt said the planned action went "far beyond reasonable measures" and was "a blow to the free transport of goods in Europe".

Coordinated by a group called Transitforum, Austrian NGOs are protesting against the likelihood of a European Court judgement against Austria over the high charges it imposes on freight traffic crossing the Brenner (ENDS Daily 24 February). NGOs are also adamant that the EU should stick to a 1995 agreement which is now threatening to require a 50% cut in Brenner pass traffic levels over the rest of this year (ENDS Daily 5 June).

Mr Klimmt claimed today that the protest would breach EU law. He demanded precautions to protect those affected and criticised what he saw as support for the blockade by regional authorities in Austria.

Road hauliers also criticised the planned blockade today. The Geneva-based International Road Transport Union (IRU) said it would violate "a host of international agreements" and have a "significant impact" on European trade and industry because Austria had failed to put in place rail-based alternative means for trans-alpine freight transport. "The IRU...vehemently opposes the tearing up of fundamental international agreements in this wholesale manner," the association said.

Follow Up:
IRU, tel: +41 22 918 2700; German transport ministry, tel: +49 30 20 08 20 40 and press release; Transitforum, tel: +43 512 579 560.

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