Germany Referred to Court of Justice for Non-Compliance with EU Safety and Interoperability Requirements

Germany has been referred to the European Union’s (EU) Court of Justice for excluding its regional transport networks from EU safety and interoperability requirements.

The referral was made by the European Commission for failing to apply the requirements set out in Directives 2004/49/EC and 2008/57/EC.

As 16% of the German rail network currently does not meet the directives’ requirements, the Commission considers this an obstacle to the completion of the Single European Railway Area.

This is where rolling stock, signalling and other aspects of rail networks are compatible with each other, enabling improved cross-border rail transport capabilities.

Both directives include a list of situations where Member States can exclude certain specific infrastructure and rail networks from the national implementing measures.

However, these don’t include the exclusion of regional networks from any rail safety and interoperability requirements, contrary to German legislation.

The referral follows ongoing exchanges between the Commission and German authorities, dating back to Letters of Formal Notice sent in 2016.

These did not resolve the issue, as the Commission found Germany’s explanation for non-compliance to be unsatisfactory.

By raising this issue with the EU Court of Justice, the Commission’s aim is to ensure that the use of the exemption doesn’t become a barrier to operators seeking to use the excluded lines, or undermine the objective of having a single target system for EU rolling stock.

Germany authorities and the Commission have come to similar loggerheads in the past – back in 2020, a Letter of Formal Notice was sent to Germany regarding the proper implementation of EU legislation requirements for freight wagon braking equipment.

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