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Red light for the EU's 'single' traffic fine?

06 May 2014, 17:20 CET
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Red light for the EU's 'single' traffic fine?

Photo © Volker Hammermeister - Fotolia

(LUXEMBOURG) - The European Union's highest court took the unusual step Tuesday of scrapping a law enabling Europe's police to swap information on traffic offences.

In a ruling that spotlighted an embarrassing EU blunder, the European Court of Justice found that a 2011 law allowing drivers' details to be shared by national police forces had been wrongly classified.

The court said the legislation should have fallen under the EU's powers to safeguard "transport safety," but was wrongly implemented under the heading of "police cooperation".

The law covers eight road traffic offences, from speeding, failing to wear a seat-belt or crash-helmet, to illegally using a mobile phone while driving. It enables law enforcement agencies to access data and mail fines across national borders.

Having realised its legislation had been incorrectly adopted by the European Parliament, the European Commission itself went to the court to have it annulled, in the hope of replacing it.

The Court agreed however to a Commission request that its legal effect remain in place for up to a year, to enable new legislation to be re-submitted.

As a result, drivers breaking road laws in other EU countries will continue to receive fines as part of the information-sharing arrangement, despite the law being annulled.

Judgement of the European Court of Justice in Case C-43/12 - Commission v Parliament and Council

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