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European Commission - Press release

Rail transport: Commission refers Germany to the Court of Justice over interoperability

Brussels, 24 November 2011 - The European Commission has decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice for failure to implement common rules on achieving interoperability of European railways. The deadline for implementation was 19 July 2010. In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, the Commission will ask the Court to impose a daily penalty payment on Germany until the adoption of national measures.

The EU rules

Directives 2008/57/EC and 2009/131/EC aim to establish the conditions for achieving interoperability1 within the European rail transport system. These conditions concern the design, construction, placing in service, upgrading, renewal, operation and maintenance of parts of the railway system. They also include the professional qualifications and health and safety conditions of the staff contributing to its operation and maintenance. The directives define the procedures for authorisation for placing into service of vehicles, the content of the technical specifications for interoperability and the procedures for adopting, reviewing and publishing them.

The reason for today's action

The Commission had already requested Germany on 20 September 2010 and on 16 June 2011 to take action to ensure compliance with the directive. As a response, Germany indicated that such measures would probably only enter into force in May 2012.

The Commission concluded that Germany has not taken the measures relating to the Directive which it was required to implement and, in any event, has failed to notify the Commission of any such measures.

The practical effect of non-implementation

Failure to implement the directive means that rail interoperability within the European Union would not be achieved. This would prevent people and goods from moving around more easily using railways as a safe and environmentally‑friendly mode of transport. This affects not only Germany, but the entire European single railway area.

More information on infringement procedures:


Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

1 :

Rail interoperability is aimed at improving the competitive position of the rail sector so that it can compete effectively with other transport modes, and in particular with road transport.

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