Luxembourg (AP) - The question of whether German leaders with the threat of imprisonment can be forced to impose diesel driving bans in large cities, busy today (14:30) the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.
At a hearing it concerns a request of the Bavarian administrative court to the highest European Union judges, whether a compulsory coercion under European Union law is possible or even necessary. The goal of the detention is to force, among others, the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) to implement a seven-year-old sentence.
Following a complaint by the German Environmental Aid (DUH), the Administrative Court of Munich in 2012 condemned the Free State to draw up a new Clean Air Plan. He should also provide driving bans on diesel-powered cars on certain heavily used roads. However, the Bavarian government had always rejected driving bans. The Environmental Aid had therefore imposed periodic penalty payments on the government to persuade it to implement the ruling.
The so-called preliminary ruling of the Verwaltungsgerichtshof states that the periodic penalty payments had no effect, because they would have to be paid by the Bavarian State to the Bavarian State Treasury - that is, they would only be rebooked within the budget.
The Bayerische Verwaltungsgerichtshof points out in its question to the ECJ that a penalty payment against public officials in the opinion of the Federal Constitutional Court is not provided for in German law. However, according to a 2014 ECJ ruling, courts in EU countries are required to "take all necessary measures" to ensure compliance with the European Air Pollution Control Directive. Moreover, the "failure to comply with final decisions by public authorities" is incompatible with EU law.
The German environmental aid demands from the Administrative Court not only compulsory liability against the Bavarian Prime Minister Söder and senior officials from the relevant ministries. In a similar process, she also demands compulsory detention against the Prime Minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). Also for this procedure the judgment of the ECJ, which is expected only in a few weeks or months, is important. The large chamber with 15 judges polls on Tuesday only the parties involved.
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