The European Union will not be able to force Germany to open up its streets to truckers on Sundays. A vote endorsed by nine other countries was enough to keep the transport decision a national one.
Germany's Autobahn network is one of the most frequently traveled in Europe.
Sunday day-trippers will continue to have smooth sailing along Germany's Autobahns in the future, now that an EU plan to regulate trucking across the bloc has failed. Germany, along with nine other member states blocked Brussels' initiative to legislate in the matter. The vote in the council of transport ministers means that the authority for maintaining the Sunday-ban remains on the national level.
Germany had argued hard against giving Brussels the jurisdiction for an EU-wide regulation of trucking, fearing that if the decision was taken out of its hands, the country's ban on heavy vehicles on Sundays and holidays would be overthrown. Lifting the ban would have resulted in a massive influx of traffic in Europe's biggest transit land, said German Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe ahead of the vote.
In Germany, people are happy that there are no heavy trucks crisscrossing the country on Sundays and holidays. "The Germans expect it to remain that way," Stolpe said.
New power structure
The decision in the transport council reflects the vote last December when Germany had mobilized enough votes to block the new EU regulations from going through. At the time Austria, France and Luxembourg joined Germany in voting against Brussels' plan for more jurisdiction in the area. But after the EU expanded to 25 members on May 1, the four votes were not enough and the Czech Republic, Britain, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia and Malta had to be persuaded to vote with Germany and the other opponents of Sunday trucking.