Top EU prosecutor says fee on Turkish trucks illegal

ANADOLU AGENCY
LUXEMBOURG
Published 07.04.2017 21:18

Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, advocate general of the European Court of Justice, has expressed his opinion that transit fees should not be taken from Turkish trucks entering into Europe. The ECJ's advocate general stated that demand of a transit fee from Turkish trucks violated the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU.

In the case regarding the practice of obtaining passage fees from Turkish trucks entering Europe, filed by the İstanbul Lojistik Hiz. Taş. ve Tic. Ltd. Şti against the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration, the advocate general stated that the Turkish company is right. Saugmandsgaard e pointed out that obtaining transit fees from Turkish trucks for every pass into Hungary is equivalent to the customs duty, which was also prohibited by Articles 4 and 5 of the EU-Turkey Association Council and the Customs Union Agreement. In addition, he was emphasized that the fees paid by Turkish companies were contrary to the competition and they increased the cost of the products. The court is expected to announce its decision by the end of the year. The ruling, which will set a precedent, will be sent to the Szeged Administrative Court of Hungary, which takes the matter to the ECJ. Meanwhile, the International Transporters Association (UND) was pleased with advocate general's opinion. UND CEO Fatih Şener, told Anadolu Agency reporters that they expect the decision to be announced within six months.

"We believe that this will be an important decision in terms of Turkey's exports since it will improve the pace and cost of our commercial transport to Europe," Şener said. Noting that this will also contribute to Europe, Şener added, "We always said ‘there are judges in Luxembourg.' We still maintain our argument. We are very pleased."

In March 2015, Hungary imposed a fine of 2,400 euros to a truck driver who did not pay the transit fee of 438 euros. Later, the driver's employer, Istanbul Lojistik Hiz. Taş. ve Tic. Ltd. Şti, took the issue to Hungarian court with the support of the UND and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).

The Hungarian court also decided to move the case to the European Court of Justice, which asked member states and the EU Commission for their opinions in January 2016. In the hearing held in Luxembourg on January 19, 2017, the EU Commission expressed its opinion in the favor of the Turkish side and stated that the payment of transit fee is against the Article 4 and 5 of the EU-Turkey Association Council Agreement.

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