It is a serious allegation: Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, head of the company CTS Eventim, testified in the commission of inquiry about the failed car toll that Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wanted to force the managers of the operating companies who were not involved in making a public false statement.
On June 19, 2019, a day after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) overturned the toll as illegal in the EU, Scheuer is said to have demanded that the managers of CTS Eventim, Kapsch and the joint company Autoticket also cancel the contract by the end of 2018. of the toll operator.
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In reality, Schulenberg had offered the minister to wait until after the CJEU ruling before signing, so that both parties have certainty about the schedule. Scheuer had refused because he did not want a delay. Under no circumstances should the toll start until the election year 2021. In addition, due to a postponement, he did not want to negotiate an additional budget with coalition partner SPD.
According to Schulenberg’s statement, he made a “threat”: if the managers did not publicly support his version, he would speak to the Bundestag’s transportation commission about the reasons for terminating the operator’s contract in such a way that the companies would look bad.
Georg Kapsch, head of the Vienna company of the same name, confirmed the statements in the committee. His colleague’s offer to the minister to postpone the signing until after the judgment of the Court of Justice was “well placed and seriously intended”. He could not imagine that Scheuer had forgotten this.
The minister had repeatedly claimed that such an offer had never been made. Since he also did this once in the Bundestag, he could lose his office according to the coalition partner SPD.
Video 18/06/2019, 1:00 pm: 31 minutes. European Court of Justice cancels German car toll
Managing director Kapsch said in the committee that Scheuer had not only rejected this offer, but also requested a price reduction of the offer from the operating companies in return. He also brought it into play to talk about other services again later on, including pay.
“I categorically declined,” said Kapsch. He has had bad experiences with such offers in other countries. “I don’t know if this minister will still be in office.”
An option offered by Scheuer: the Autoticket joint venture could later in the future levy a toll for vans between 3.5 and 7 tonnes total weight and for long-distance buses. Kapsch did not want to accept this risky offer.
Greens chairman Stephan Kühn pointed out to the manager that a toll on these two vehicle classes had been explicitly ruled out in the coalition agreement between the Union and the SPD and that Scheuer also said publicly that no such toll would come.
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Kapsch said the reasons for Scheuer’s termination of the operator contract on June 19, 2019 were “clearly advanced”. Before the ECJ ruling, “there was never a dismissal in the chamber”. According to Scheuer, there was no such thing as a “bad performance”. This will prove to be the case in arbitration, in which Kapsch and Eventim demand at least 560 million euros in damages from the federal government.
The Kapsch company collects tolls in 50 countries around the world. “In Germany in particular, I would have least expected that people would not behave in accordance with the contract.”
Volker Schneble, Director of the Autoticket GmbH joint venture Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa
In fact, the car toll should have been levied for the first time on October 1, 2020. On June 18, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the CSU prestige project “Ausländermaut” was illegal in the EU, precisely because of the discrimination against foreign drivers. The next day, Scheuer terminated the operator contract with Autoticket – but not because he misjudged the legal risk, but because of the company’s alleged “poor performance”.
Volker Schneble, director of the Autoticket company to this day, also said in the committee of inquiry that the project had been successful until the day it was terminated by the Minister of Transport. “The cooperation with the customer was cooperative until June 19, 2019.”
Schneble also rejected Scheuer’s charge that Autoticket had worked poorly. “We assessed the dismissal for allegedly failing to submit detailed planning documentation on time as clearly foul play.” In reality, Scheuer’s move was “politically motivated and spontaneous”. “They were just looking for a way out of this politically tricky situation.” Schneble spoke of a “short-circuit reaction” from the minister.
Later that evening, Scheuer has to comment on the allegations in committee.