In the fight against air pollution in German cities, the German environmental aid is every legal means right. Most recently, she successfully won driving bans in numerous German cities. Now she wants to bring politicians to jail if they do not do enough for clean air.
Before the European Court of Justice is to be negotiated in the afternoon today the question whether German top politicians can be forced with this threat to the imposition of diesel driving bans in large cities. An oral hearing deals with a request from the Bavarian Administrative Court to the EU judges whether this step is possible or even necessary under EU law.
Affected by the applications for compulsory detention are members of the Bavarian state government. Among other things, the DUH wants to force the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder to implement a seven-year-old ruling. According to the 2012 ruling, the state government has to draw up a new clean air plan, which also provides for driving bans on diesel-powered cars on certain particularly polluted roads. The Free State, however, refuses.
Penalty payments ineffective
The Munich administrative court had several times fine imposed on the governed by the CSU politician Free State - in the amount of several thousand euros. The government has not turned in yet. Thereupon the DUH demanded the compulsory liability with the administrative court. Apart from Söder, there is also an application against the Bavarian Minister of the Environment Thorsten Glauber (Free Voters) as well as against several senior officials from the responsible ministries.
In a similar case, the DUH also demands coercion against the Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann. The organization demands up to six months in prison against individual politicians of the Baden-Württemberg state government. The Stuttgart Clean Air Plan is also about driving ban zones for Euro 5 diesel in the existing environmental zone. Since January of this year, driving restrictions for even older diesel vehicles are already valid in the city.
So far imposed penalty payments are ineffective against the refusal of the politicians, it is now called in the so-called request for a preliminary ruling to the EuGH. Because they would have to be paid by the Bavarian state in the Bavarian state treasury - so would only be reposted within the budget.
The Bayerische Verwaltungsgerichtshof also 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, EU courts 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.
A judgment is expected only in weeks or months. The large chamber with 15 judges will first ask the parties to the proceedings.