Photo: European Roads / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / image has been cropped and is for illustrative purposes only

Italy takes Austria to court over Brenner traffic restrictions

Italy has escalated its dispute with Austria over restrictions on the movement of industrial vehicles over the Brenner Pass, according to Transporto Europa.

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Following a decision by the Council of Ministers on 16 October, Italy has formally requested the European Commission to open infringement proceedings against Austria. The complaint concerns Austria’s imposition of bans and restrictions on the circulation of industrial vehicles along the vital Brenner Pass corridor.

In a recent development, the Italian government announced on 15 February that it would send a letter of formal notice to Austria, invoking Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 

The next step is for the European Commission to consider whether to pursue the infringement procedure. If the Commission decides to proceed, it will send a letter of formal notice to Austria, which will have two months to respond.

Failure by Austria to change the Commission’s position and maintain the existing restrictions could lead to further escalation. The European Commission reserves the right to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, where Austria could face sanctions, including possible daily fines or lump sums.

The Brenner Pass is a key transit route between Italy and Austria, facilitating the movement of goods and people between northern and southern Europe. Countries such as Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as several road transport organisations, have been protesting against truck sector bans, night bans and block handling since the first plans for these measures emerged. There have been numerous letters of request, two legal opinions commissioned by the Bolzano Chamber of Commerce, and threats of legal action by Italian associations.

So far, however, the Commission has rejected calls to deal with the problem, insisting that the countries bordering the Brenner must solve the problem of lorry transit together.