Brussels, 28 February 2013
Rail – statement by Vice President Kallas following today's ECJ rulings (Spain, Hungary,Germany, Austria)
Today the ECJ has ruled in four infringement cases brought by the Commission concerning the extent of independence from other rail operators required of an infrastructure manager under the 1st railway package.
Speaking after the judgment, Vice President Kallas said "We welcome today's judgement of the Court of Justice (in Cases C-473/10 and C-483/10), in which the Court supports the Commission and finds that Hungary and Spain have failed to comply with their EU law obligations as regards rail transport. The Court clearly established that track access charges must be set independently by the infrastructure manager, and not by the State, and also that the infrastructure manager may only charge direct costs for the use of the tracks.
We also note the Court's ruling (in cases C-555 and 556/10) regarding Austria and Germany, where the Court followed the Advocate General in finding that these Member States had complied with existing rail legislation as regards the level of independence required for an infrastructure manager in a holding company structure. While we respect the Court's interpretation of the current law, the Commission remains convinced that a more effective separation between an infrastructure manager and other rail operations is essential to ensure non-discriminatory access for all operators to the rail tracks, and thus to stimulate growth in the rail sector. This approach will not change. The Commission's recently proposed 4th rail package therefore contains measures giving legal force to the level of separation which is necessary. The judgement is not in conflict with the 4th package. It underlines the importance of moving to rapid adoption of the package to ensure the continued development of innovation in the rail sector.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)