2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
The opposition has launched a committee of inquiry into the car toll that has burst. Transport Minister Scheuer now has to justify his actions.
The opposition factions of the Greens, Left and FDP brought with the required number of MPs an application for appointment, as the factions said on Tuesday. A quarter of all parliamentarians are required for a committee of inquiry.
The committee is to review the toll preparations since the start of the previous grand coalition at the end of 2013. This also moves the ex-minister and current CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt in his sights. The opposition warns of millions in damage. Scheuer rejected allegations.
Clarify personal and political responsibility
The U-Committee is supposed to "comprehensively clarify" the behavior of the government and especially the Ministry of Transport in the preparation, award and eventual termination of the operator contracts, as stated in the application. The processes are to be examined from a legal and budgetary point of view, this also applies to “personal and political responsibilities and the practice of educating and informing the parliament”. Fundamental assumptions made by the government regarding profitability, income and the effectiveness of the toll are also to be examined.
Scheuer is under pressure because he had already signed the contracts for collecting and controlling the toll with the operators Kapsch and CTS Eventim in 2018, before there was final legal certainty. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) declared the toll unlawful in mid-June. Immediately after the judgment, the federal government terminated the contracts. This could result in claims from companies running into the millions. The ministry argues against it that it was the duty to implement the toll quickly in order to secure expected income.
Documents are withheld
FDP traffic expert Oliver Luksic said that Scheuer was not solely responsible for the car toll project. "But he made massive and expensive wrong decisions himself without need." To this day, important documents were withheld from the Bundestag. This approach is unworthy of a minister and must be clarified by the committee. Green expert Stephan Kühn said that the committee should show what costs will be incurred by the federal government, for which Scheuer is politically responsible. "We owe that to the taxpayers." The left-wing traffic politician Jörg Cezanne said that Scheuer was neither able to avert damage nor willing to participate in clarification.
Scheuer said with a view to the committee of inquiry: "I will do everything I can to clarify what is still open from the point of view of the parliamentarians." He has already made numerous documents available to Parliament. Scheuer said he saw the committee of inquiry as an opportunity for objectification and clarification. "I reject the accusation that we are keeping something secret." The ministry provided extensive information.
Scheuer refuses to resign
Scheuer rejected demands from the opposition for a resignation. He leads the office with passion and a lot of joy: "I want to focus on good transport policy for the citizens." The failure of the car toll is "very unpleasant". He annoys most of all. There is a lack of money for the road infrastructure and a project that was necessary has failed.
Backing came from Union parliamentary group leader Ralph Brinkhaus (CDU). "Mr Scheuer's chair doesn't wobble, of course," he said when asked. Scheuer is "a good transport minister who moves a lot, who is very innovative". At the same time, Brinkhaus stressed that it was the fundamental right of the opposition to convene investigative committees. Respect that.
The Bundestag still has to decide on the establishment. According to the proposal, the committee should have nine members - three from the Union, two from the SPD and one member each from the AfD, Left, FDP and Greens. In this electoral period there is already a U-Committee on the terrorist attack on Berlin's Breitscheidplatz. The Defense Committee was also set up as a U-Committee to investigate controversial consultancy contracts with the ministry. Committees of inquiry can, among other things, summon witnesses and request files for their work. (dpa)
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