Brussels, 04 October 2012
Court of Justice backs Commission against Austria over reduced transport fares for students
The European Commission welcomes today's ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that finds that, by granting reduced fares on public transport only to students whose parents are in receipt of Austrian family allowances, Austria was in breach of the principle of equal treatment for EU citizens.
In most Austrian regions students benefit from reduced transport fares if their families receive family allowances in Austria. This is the case for most Austrian students. However, the same discounts are not, as a rule, offered to other EU citizens who are studying in Austria, since it is rare that their families reside in the country and qualify for Austrian family allowances.
Discrimination against EU citizens on the grounds of nationality is prohibited under EU law in the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 18). EU students who are studying anywhere in the Union have the same right to benefits as local students. The only derogation concerns student loans and grants that provide maintenance aid, which under EU secondary law are expressly excluded from the principle of equal treatment.
Today the Court has clearly re-affirmed that every exception should be interpreted restrictively: access to reduced transport fares is neither a loan nor a grant and therefore should also be offered on an equal basis to students from other Member States.
The Commission welcomes the ruling because it upholds the principles of EU law and it is supportive of the EU objective of encouraging student mobility.
Link to ruling
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
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