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Failed car toll: secret talks burden Transport Minister Scheuer


Federal Transport Minister Scheuer wants to have no fault on the billion-dollar toll. But the SPIEGEL has got insight into secret meetings with the operating companies and new documents. They prove how the Minister gambled.

In public, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) tries to give the impression that he wants to prevail in the debacle on the car toll "complete transparency". In the summer he pushed in front of the cameras a handcart full of files in the transport committee of the Bundestag. However, research by the SPIEGEL revealed that scouring the parliament, media and citizens key events that led to the failure of the CSU project, concealed.

According to SPIEGEL information, there were two secret meetings with the operating companies Eventim and Kapsch. At a meeting on November 22, 2018 in the Ministry, the minister refused, according to insiders, the offer of the Eventim boss Klaus-Peter Schulenberg from signing the operator agreement only after the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The European Court of Justice had assessed Scheuer's project as contrary to European law on 18 June 2019, the operating companies had already concluded their contract with the Ministry of Transport on 30 December 2018. The contract also included a clause requiring the operator companies to be compensated in the event of a negative ECJ ruling.

Campaign tactical reasons

As a reason for the hurry Scheuer and his former Secretary of State at the secret meeting should have called election tactical reasons. The toll should not fall in the election campaign in 2021, since any problems could have a negative impact on the election result. Therefore, the toll should be sealed in 2018 and raised from October 2020.

One day after the ECJ classified the toll as contrary to European law, Scheuer again invited the board of directors of the operator consortium to a secret meeting where Scheuer asked the Eventim boss to publicly declare that he, too, had wanted the early conclusion of the contract by the end of 2018. The SPIEGEL learned from government circles. Thus, the Minister apparently wanted to avert the sole responsibility for the early conclusion of the contract and the threat of damages.

The Ministry of Transport confirmed the two talks at the request of SPIEGEL. The first concerned "an exchange on the state of implementation of the infrastructure charge", and the second, operators were to be informed "of the first assessment of the judgment of the European Court of Justice".

Green Party politician Sven-Christian Kindler told SPIEGEL: "Andreas Scheuer lied too often to the German Bundestag and the public on the toll-case disaster, and now a committee of inquiry must provide for unsparing information."

This topic comes from the new SPIEGEL magazine - available at the kiosk from Saturday morning and every Friday at SPIEGEL + and in the digital magazine edition.

What is in the new SPIEGEL and what stories you find at SPIEGEL +, you will also learn in our free policy newsletter DIE LAGE, which appears six times a week - compact, analytical, opinionated, written by the political minds of the editorial staff.

Source: spiegel

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