Media makers and journalists announce Reporting Center for Racism and Discrimination | NOW

In the night from Sunday to Monday, 331 media makers and journalists announced in a manifesto that they would establish a Media Reporting Center for Racism & Discrimination. The signatories wish to actively register reports of racism and discrimination in journalistic media companies or productions and take action against companies in the sector that are aware or unknowingly guilty of racism and discrimination.

It is not yet known when the hotline will be operational, spokesman and co-initiator Natasja Gibbs tells “But there is urgency behind it, so it shouldn’t take months.” According to the initiators, there is close consultation with the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) and they are supported by the RADAR foundation for equal treatment.

The signatories, who work for almost all public service broadcasters, agree that the initiative stems partly from the mechanisms of racism and discrimination that the Black Lives Matter movement has denounced. “As experienced and committed media makers of color and allies in solidarity, we make an indictment in this statement against the same exclusive mechanisms that are also present in the Dutch media,” the manifesto reads. “We demand change and establish a Reporting Center for Racism & Discrimination for journalists and media makers.”

The initiators of the hotline are working on a ‘safe space’ where victims and whistleblowers of racism and discrimination in the media are assisted and protected psychologically and legally. They also want to address the tolerance of racism and discrimination in the workplace or in media productions. The signatories of the manifesto explicitly do not want people to be hired solely because of color or identity.

‘Also fear among media makers and journalists to sign’

According to Gibbs, there are also media makers and journalists who don’t dare to sign the manifesto. “Some respond that they are getting a lot of hatred in the current racism debate. They are afraid that by signing this manifesto they will have to collect even more.”

The spokesman for the initiative also states that there are also media makers who decide not to sign the manifesto for the time being because they are negotiating to eliminate racism and discrimination in their working environment. Signers would also participate under their real name rather than their stage name, fearing negative reactions.


The British Embassy in Moscow raises the LGBT flag :: Company :: RBC

Photo: ukinrussia / VK

The British Embassy in Moscow posted a rainbow LGBT flag in honor of the 50th anniversary since the first gay pride parade in new York in 1970. This Embassy reported in Telegram.

“Today at the Embassy we raise the LGBT flag in support of LGBT community, their rights and freedoms. <...> We absolutely do not accept any form of discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity”, — stated in the message.

Foreign Ministry reacted to the photo with the LGBT flag at the U.S. Embassy song El Bimbo

Photo: usembru / Instagram

Previously, the LGBT flag posted to the American Embassy in Moscow. In response, the Russian foreign Minister left under the post of the Embassy in Facebook a link to the video with the song El Bimbo. This track is known as the song that played in the movie “Police Academy” when entering characters in a gay bar “the Blue oyster”. The foreign Ministry explained in the comments that he did it to support US “in a joyful and cheerful mood” in difficult times for America time.


Johnson reported having taken protests in Britain under the control of extremists :: Society :: RBC

The Prime Minister criticized the protesters for damage to the monuments that, in their opinion, represent racism. He recalled that the monuments taught the people history and urged not to censor the country’s past

The extremists have taken control of the protests against racism in the UK, their aim is violence, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his Twitter account.

“It is clear that the protests were brought under control by extremists aimed at violence. Attacks on police and indiscriminate acts of violence that we have seen over the last week, unacceptable and disgusting,” wrote the Prime Minister.

He also criticized attacks on protesters in historical monuments, which, in the opinion of the protesters, epitomize the racism. So, Johnson defended the monument to Winston Churchill in which the demonstrators crossed out the name of the former Prime Minister and paint wrote “was racist.” After this, the authorities were forced to sheathe a monument to the tree to prevent further damage.

Johnson recalled that the statue of Churchill — a reminder of the achievements of the policy for the salvation of Britain and Europe “from the fascist and racist tyranny.” “It is absurd and disgraceful that a national monument today is at risk of attacks by protesters,” wrote Johnson. He also stressed that Churchill sometimes expressed ideas that were unacceptable to modern people, but, nevertheless, “was a hero and fully deserves his monument.”


the Great Mosque of Paris denounces “discrimination”

“If we want to express our amazement and disappointment today, it is because of unexplained reversals operated by the executive, which announces the possibility of the celebration of religious services in places of worship before the scheduled date , that is from May 29, to allow the organization of religious ceremonies linked to the Jewish and Christian feasts of Pentecost. “

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information in France and worldwide

In a firm statement released Tuesday, May 5, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, protested against a possible resumption of religious ceremonies from May 29 – not June 2 as it was initially planned -, while these have been suspended since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

” Two weights, two measures “

This relaxation had been announced the day before, before the Senate, by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe: “I know that the period from May 29 to 1er June corresponds, for several cults, to festivals or to important stages of the religious calendar ”, he said, responding to the pressing demands of the episcopate in recent days. This new date would allow Christians to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, Sunday May 31, the last day of Easter time.

For Chems-Eddine Hafiz, however, this decision would create a “ inequality »Between citizens of different religions. “Muslims (…) would not understand this unfair measure of” double standards “, since the feast of Eid was only separated from Jewish and Christian Pentecost by four days. “

→ READ. Coronavirus: Muslims struggle to bury their dead

Eid El-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan started on April 24, is scheduled to take place on May 23 and 24. A party “As important as Jewish or Christian Pentecost”, for the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris.

Take jurisdiction

The latter went so far as to warn that if the easing announced by the government were to take place, his institution would ask “Urgently” the public authorities to fix the resumption of religious ceremonies on May 24, “For all places of worship without exclusion”.

“Otherwise, the Grand Mosque of Paris will unfortunately be obliged to use all legal means to defend the moral interests of Muslims in France”, continues the press release, evoking a referral to the courts competent to denounce “A serious fact of manifest discrimination”.

Since mid-March, the vast majority of mosques in France have been closed to the public and all collective prayers have been suspended, including those for Friday and Tarawih (night prayer during Ramadan).

→ THE TURN OF THE QUESTION. What is Ramadan?


Handball: “Discrimination” – BVB women protest with a beard

Sports Gender debate

“This is discrimination” – BVB women protest with a beard

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Bundesliga breaks off season – THW Kiel is champion

The Handball Bundesliga is now ending its season prematurely due to the corona pandemic. The German champion is the THW Kiel. The league determines this after a virtual general meeting.

The Bundesliga seasons in handball are canceled. A master is chosen for men, but not for women. This is met with fierce criticism. Especially with the Borussia Dortmund players.

Dhe different way of awarding the championship has brought some Borussia Dortmund players to the table. The league leader of the women’s handball Bundesliga is the main victim of the end of the season decided on Tuesday. Because unlike the men’s competition, where the leader THW Kiel was declared a master after an applied quotient rule, the women go away empty-handed.

The Handball Bundesliga Women (HBF) decided not to choose a title holder this season – which is why the ball throwing department of BVB responded with a very successful campaign. The disappointed players added their autograph cards with the sentence: “If I were a man, I would be German champion now.” Some, like national goalkeeper Isabell Roch, also painted a beard on the face.

“Of course we would have liked to have won the title as confirmation of the great season performance. We don’t feel good about the decision, ”Roch told the“ Main Echo ”.

“As a team, we came up with a funny action and painted mustaches on our autograph cards with the inscription: ‘If I were a man, I would now be a German champion.’ We want to make it clear that we are not attacking or blaming anyone want. We want to laugh about it. “

“Signs of Discrimination”

Reinhard Rauball had previously criticized the HBF’s decision to end the season without a champion due to the Corona crisis. “I have no understanding for that. The sport is being trodden on, ”said the President of Borussia Dortmund to the“ Ruhr Nachrichten ”. The BVB women led the table after 17 wins in 18 games and thought they were well on their way to their first championship.

Disappointed: Reinhard Rauball

Disappointed: Reinhard Rauball

Source: dpa

Rauball referred to the difference to the men’s Bundesliga, in which the THW Kiel had been awarded the title on Tuesday. “For men, the front-runner is called to the master, but not for women. This shows signs of discrimination because there are no sporting arguments for this decision. “

BVB department head Andreas Heiermann expressed similar criticism in the “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung”: “I almost fell off my chair. This is embarrassing for sport and discrimination. ”The decision was“ a sporting joke ”.

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Last appearance for the time being: Füchse pro Johan Koch meets on March 8th against Flensburg's goalkeeper Torbjörn Bergerud. Then the season in the handball Bundesliga is interrupted

The HBF had justified the decision by saying that almost a third of the season was still to be played. It would also have resulted in a duel between the league leaders from Dortmund and the one-point worse chaser SG BBM Bietigheim. BVB had clearly won the first leg with 38:32 and also prevailed against Bietigheim in the DFB Cup (29:27).


Racism against Africans: China vows improvement

Snapshot from a neighborhood known as “Little Africa” ​​in the city of Guangzhou
Picture: EPA

In times of the epidemic, racist incidents are piling up in China. Many Africans live in the city of Guangzhou. After their reports became known, the central government intervened.

DThe Chinese government has promised better treatment of Africans living in the city of Guanghzou after massive international protests over discrimination against this group in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said on Sunday that “the life and health of foreign citizens in China is very important to his government.”

The African Union (AU) had previously sent China its “extreme concern” about discrimination against Africans in Guangzhou. The American government also complained of “abuse and ill-treatment of Africans living and working in China” and accused China of “xenophobia”.

Expelled from apartments

Africans living in Guangzhou, southern China, have recently reported that they have been the victim of discrimination, displacement and house bans after several coronavirus infections among Nigerians have been confirmed. Several people told AFP news agency that they had been evicted from their homes. Others reported that they had been denied access to hotels.

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said the authorities in Guangdong Province – whose capital is Guanghzou – declined to comment on any “racist and discriminatory” comments. They take the concerns raised by African countries very seriously and are working to improve their methods of fighting the pandemic.

I promise improvement

So there should be no discrimination in health services, the spokesman assured. Hotel rooms should also be made available to foreigners who would have to quarantine for medical observation, at reduced prices. China has invested heavily in Africa over the past two decades and maintains close relationships with many countries on the continent.

According to the authorities, China has now largely curbed the spread of the novel corona virus. Most of the new infections that were recently recorded were therefore found in people who had entered from abroad. The majority of these “imported” cases of infection are Chinese who have returned from stays abroad.


Why big data is in a dilemma

Frankfurt At a conference for actuaries, Deloitte consultants said they could use consumers’ shopping histories to assess their health status as well as a traditional medical exam.

Using this example, the British computer scientists and statisticians Bryce Goodman and Seth Flaxman illustrate in a technical essay which dilemma lies in the attractive commercial possibilities of big data. They are often hard at the vague frontier of illicit discrimination.

According to the European General Data Protection Regulation, health data are particularly sensitive data, the commercial processing of which is only permitted with explicit permission and special precautions.

In addition, everyone has the right to have the algorithm used clearly explained, to protest against the result and to demand a decision by a human being if sensitive data is used.

But when actuaries use such calculation models – also known as algorithms – to help decide who gets insurance at what price, they do not access health data directly. “Either the regulation is interpreted narrowly and only the direct use of sensitive data is meant, then there is no protection against discrimination,” conclude Goodman and Flaxman. Or, in a further interpretation, the use of data is also meant that allows strong conclusions to be drawn about the sensitive properties: “Then the regulation is not practical.”

The latter is because the algorithms of the newer generation can hardly be explained in an understandable way. This is all the more true when it comes to learning systems that develop the algorithm independently. Then even the developers no longer know exactly which data is weighted and interpreted in which combination and how.

Risks to companies

The business ethicist Adair Morse from the University of California and the central bank economist Karen Pence dealt with the problems that arise in the area of ​​finance in the article “Technological Innovation and Discrimination in Household Finance”.

They highlight the major risks that companies face when rules and current technical possibilities fall apart. The great and difficult challenge for legislators and lawyers to find a workable solution is just as clear.

The good news is that data-driven decisions reduce the potential for the particularly unsavory form of discrimination, which in economic jargon is called “taste based discrimination”, ie discrimination based on aversion or prejudice. When decision-makers no longer have as much freedom to make decisions, they can no longer easily discriminate against people they don’t like.

The bad news: The second form of discrimination, “statistical discrimination”, could become more widespread through data-based creation of profiles and decisions.

Statistical discrimination occurs when, for lack of information about the individual, for example about his creditworthiness or life expectancy, one falls back on the average values ​​of a group to which this person belongs. A woman is classified differently from a man. This was common for life insurance companies until it was banned by the courts as discriminatory.

As the amount of data increases, it becomes more difficult for commercial users to avoid this form of discrimination. At the same time, it becomes more difficult for the courts and regulators to prove and punish them.

Statistical discrimination serves to maximize profits. This is a motive that jurisprudence accepts in principle as legitimate. But the limits of what is allowed are blurred. It becomes problematic, for example, if good faith or the higher information costs of disadvantaged groups are used to charge higher prices than others. This can contradict the rules for equal access to goods and services.

So far, it has already been the case that sellers, for example of cars or loans, use rules of thumb about the possibilities of different groups to compare prices for price differentiation. However, if algorithms can now calculate how price-sensitive each individual is based on a large amount of data and, in principle, you can give each buyer a different price, this will take on a whole new quality.

Discrimination can also occur in an unexpected way, for example if minorities are heavily underrepresented in the data sets used to train artificial intelligence. With facial recognition, this has led to fair-skinned people and men being recognized much more reliably than dark-skinned people and women.

If credit default probabilities are determined, the effect of the small number means that the estimate for minorities is significantly more uncertain. If the algorithm limits lending to a default risk below a threshold, that alone can lead to rejections for the minority, even if loan defaults are not more common in their group.

Treacherous purchases

While the courts were able to easily recognize and judge different insurance premiums for men and women, it is hardly possible today to determine whether there is indirect discrimination based on gender, age or health. Because the algorithms sometimes include thousands of features. Even if the protected features are not included, they are very often included indirectly, for example, because men rarely buy tampons and the purchase of medication allows good conclusions to be drawn about their age and state of health.

It is therefore all the more urgent that politicians, regulators and courts have to take on the task of adapting the relevant laws, judgments and regulatory requirements on the subject of discrimination to a new situation in which the unequal treatment is set up in the data sets and is “decided” by algorithms that are difficult to understand. “The decisions of the next few years will influence whether discrimination in financial services will become pervasive or not,” warn Morse and Pence.

While they do not offer discussed solutions to this problem, they do indicate where one could be. They consider the previous test system to be no longer practical. The variables used in a commercial decision are used to check whether there is any discrimination.

They promote thinking about an output-oriented model. According to this, discrimination should be considered, which results in people with certain protected characteristics being worse off than people without this characteristic.

At the same time, they complain that economic research cannot contribute as much to the necessary adjustment as it could. Research that puts the interests of consumers at the center hardly takes place. Instead, it is almost only about the interests of the data-using companies.

The reason is the power of those who have the data. “The algorithms are complex, and the data are the property of the technology corporations,” she explains, adding: “A lot of research is therefore necessarily done in partnership with them.”

More: That is the difference between AI and explainable AI.


Gay Travel Index: Homosexuals face death penalty in 15 countries

I.n 15 of 202 countries and regions worldwide are currently facing the death penalty. In at least 45 countries, people were murdered last year for homosexual or transsexuality. This emerges from the recently published Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2020, which has now appeared for the eighth time since 2012.

The Russian sub-republic of Chechnya is worst performing with 20 minus points (place 202). Somalia (rank 201, 19 minus points) is penultimate. With 18 minus points each, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which opened for the first time to western tourists in 2019, jointly ranked 199th.

The United Arab Emirates (195th place, 15 minus points) and Qatar (190th place, 14 minus points) also perform poorly – both countries in which tourism plays an important role.

Death penalty for homosexuals enshrined in law

The regions and nations mentioned here have in common that they have enshrined the death penalty for homosexuals in the law, even if it is not always practiced. Other countries where according to the Gay Travel Index The death penalty for homosexuality is Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mauritania, Pakistan and parts of Nigeria and Indonesia where Islamic Sharia law applies. The Sultanate of Brunei officially introduced the death penalty by stoning in 2019, but has not yet practiced it after international protests.

Sultan of Brunei suspends death penalty against homosexuals

The Sultan of Brunei does not want to execute the death penalty against homosexuals. A moratorium that has existed for two decades should be extended, the sultan said. The tightening of the law in early April triggered international protests and boycott calls.

Countries and regions in which a conspicuously large number of trans and homosexuals were murdered include, in addition to Muslim countries (such as Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen), African countries (such as Malawi, Cameroon, Zimbabwe) and parts of Latin America (such as Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala) and the Caribbean (such as Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Jamaica).

Gay Travel Index 2020

Source: WORLD infographic

“The ranking shows that the global liberalization process has slowed down significantly,” Christian Knuth, who is responsible for the Gay Travel Index at the Spartacus media group, told WELT. The index is published annually, plus and minus points are assigned and a nation ranking based on 17 criteria (there were 14 aspects by 2019).

The criteria catalog includes, for example, anti-discrimination laws, marriage for all, religious influence, persecution, murder rate and death penalty. The ban on the controversial “homo-healing” (conversion therapy) and the acceptance of intersex as an additional gender option in addition to male and female are now being evaluated for the first time.

Gay Travel Index appeals to all vacationers

The Gay Travel Index not only serves lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people as an orientation for planned trips, “It is also intended to motivate heterosexual travelers to think about the moral and legal standards of their travel destination – and a vacation in a badly rated holiday Exclude country if necessary, ”says Knuth. One can consciously go on vacation in countries “in which the queer community is an accepted and beloved part of society”.

The index considers, for example, the touristic countries of Egypt and Tanzania (both rank 181, 13 minus points) as difficult travel destinations, in which homosexuals not only have to reckon with LGTB-hostile sentiment, but also with prison.

Uganda has the same miserable status in the ranking, where homosexuality is not only taboo and is punishable. In the country that advertises tourists as the “Pearl of Africa”, politicians are constantly calling for the death penalty for homosexuals.

The Gay Travel Index largely coincides with the evaluation of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), which states that at the end of 2019 there were 70 countries and territories with anti-homosexual laws worldwide. In 35 UN member states, the laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sex have even been tightened in the past two years.

Poland has slipped significantly in Europe

If you look to Europe, according to the Gay Travel Index, Russia does the worst (161st place, twelve minus points). Homosexuality is not officially prohibited here, but “propaganda” for same-sex is.

Abuses against gays are common, the Orthodox Church considers homosexuality to be “immoral”, and a ban on same-sex marriages is to be enshrined in the new Russian constitution that is currently being drafted.

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LGBT activist Alicja Sienkiewicz, 19, in her home village of Ciecierzyn

Compared to the previous year, Poland slipped significantly in the index (rank 103, six minus points). In 2019, the country still ranked 83rd. According to Knuth, the main reason for this is the establishment of so-called “LGTB-free zones”, which now cover around a third of the country’s territory.

Gay marriage allowed, conversion therapy prohibited

But there is also good news. For example, that Malta moved up from fourth place in the Gay Travel Index last year to the first place that the country occupied together with Sweden and Canada (twelve plus points each). For Malta, for example, the anti-discrimination laws (since 2004) speak that homosexual marriage and adoption are permitted, conversion therapies are prohibited and intersex people are recognized.

The climbers include Argentina and Uruguay, who share fifth place with the Netherlands, Spain and Great Britain. South Africa (best-ranked country in Africa) and Israel and Taiwan (best-ranked countries in Asia) are ranked 23rd.

Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Angola improved from 104th to 65th place due to the abolition of homosexuality.

Germany does better than 2019

Germany climbed to tenth place in the current Gay Travel Index – due to improved intersex rights and the emerging legal ban on conversion therapy. In 2019, the Federal Republic ranked 23rd.

“It’s okay the way you are”

Methods or “therapies” to cure homosexuality will be banned in Germany in the future. “Homosexuality is not a disease. The term therapy is therefore misleading, ”said Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU).

Source: WELT / Eybe Ahlers

The USA also made a leap forward from rank 47 (2019) to 31 (2020). However, the situation varies from state to state, which is why the Gay Travel Index evaluates the USA not only in the nation ranking, but also in the context of a separate state index.

California ranks first, followed by Nevada and New York State (both number two). The worst result came from Ohio (rank 51).

Despite all the negative developments, the ILGA also positively assesses that at the end of 2019 exactly 123 UN member states (plus Taiwan) viewed consensual same-sex sex as legal. In 28 countries, same-sex marriage is equivalent to marriage between a man and a woman.

And according to the ILGA, eleven nations have laid down a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation, including Sweden, Portugal, South Africa, Nepal and Bolivia.

Here you will find the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2020 in full length.

Vatican document criticizes transgender and homosexual people

Free choice of sex at any time? Not when it comes to the Catholic Church. An official document describes gender theory as a “confused concept of freedom”.


Scientists call: Overweight in the crosshairs

MMore than a hundred medical organizations and also publication platforms such as the “Nature” group have joined a call by 36 obesity experts and called for “an end to the stigmatization of obese people”. The starting point for the initiative was the observation that fat people were generally and erroneously publicly misrepresented as lazy, sluggish and devoid of any self-control.

This stigmatization exacerbates the psychological problems and makes it even more difficult to combat the spread of obesity. Almost half of people worldwide are now considered overweight to obese. The manifesto is intended to help recognize obesity as a disease and to combat defamation, particularly in the medical sector.

On the other hand, findings such as the results published in the “mBio” magazine of the American Association of Microbiologists, according to which obesity can obviously increase the danger of an influenza infection, are quite enlightening. Rodent experiments have shown that being heavy means that one breathes in deeper and that many of the flu viruses apparently survive longer and in deeper parts of the lungs and can multiply.


Internal documents: the Chancellery warned early about the car toll

Dhe project harbors the “considerable danger” of a violation of European law. The hope of the Ministry of Transport to get the car toll at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has to be “judged skeptically”. Such objections have often been raised against the CSU project. But the reservations quoted here do not come from the opposition. Not even from expert reports or media reports. But from the Federal Chancellery.

For years at the head of the federal government, concerns were raised against the CSU plans to introduce a car toll that only charged foreigners. This is shown by documents that are available to WELT. This raises the question of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (CDU) responsibility for the toll debacle that arose in June last year after the negative judgment of the CJEU. By accepting the toll imposed by the Transport Ministers Alexander Dobrindt and Andreas Scheuer (both CSU), Merkel ignored objections from her own home?

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05.02.2020, Berlin: Andreas Scheuer (CSU), Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, is waiting for the start of the Federal Cabinet meeting in the Chancellery. Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

There were objections as early as 2014, when the then Minister of State, Dobrindt, internally presented his plan to levy a toll (“infrastructure charge”) from both foreigners and residents, but to save German motorists any additional burden by correspondingly lowering the vehicle tax. On June 27, 2014, the head of the department responsible for transport policy at the Chancellery for Transport Policy (BMVI) gave this vote: “No approval for the short-term publication of the concept submitted by BMVI.”

The reason given in the letter addressed to the then Chancellor, Peter Altmaier (CDU): “It should not be permissible for the infrastructure tax paid by residents to be credited against the tax, since in this way the car toll for residents is taxed “There is” a significant risk “that the EU Commission” and in the event of a very probable complaint, the ECJ will interpret the regulation as a violation of the prohibition of discrimination against EU foreigners “.

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The head of unit from the Chancellery was not alone in his concerns. When the Federal Ministry of Transport adhered to the concept two months later and had sent it to the other ministries for coordination, on August 28, 2014, he wrote in a letter addressed directly to “Federal Chancellor” that the Ministry of Finance also had objections to European law.

“A clear offset of the infrastructure tax against the vehicle tax only for residents, which would lead to discrimination against EU foreigners, should not take place,” it said in a statement by the Ministry of Finance.

As a result, the Ministry of Transport revised its concept and tried to use more flexible wording and changed vehicle tax rates to suggest that there should be no one-to-one compensation for tolls for residents. But the effect remained the same: The motor vehicle tax cuts continued to ensure that no domestic vehicle owner would have been additionally burdened by the toll.

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As a result, the toll would still only have hit real foreigners. The Chancellor’s Office commented accordingly on October 28, 2014, as follows: “There is still the possibility that the Commission (and in the event of a complaint also the ECJ) the proposed regulation as a violation of the prohibition of discrimination against EU Interpreted by foreigners. “

When the plan was nevertheless to be adopted by the cabinet in December 2014, the department stated in a note: “Nevertheless, compatibility with European law should become a major hurdle for the legislative proposal.” In fact, there were conflicts with the EU Commission, who assessed the toll plans as violating European law. The Chancellor’s Office thought that Germany would prevail in this dispute: “BMVI’s hopes of being able to succeed before the ECJ must be viewed with skepticism,” says a letter dated April 22, 2016.

An agreement was subsequently reached with the EU Commission. But the danger was by no means legally eliminated. Because in October 2017 Austria filed a lawsuit against the German toll with the ECJ. And when the court upheld the lawsuit in June 2019 and declared the German passenger car toll to be contrary to European law, the head of that department wrote directly to Chancellor Merkel on June 18, 2019: “A negative ECJ judgment was always to be feared.”

Operating companies demand 560 million repayment

After the car toll failed, the terminated operating companies are demanding around 560 million euros from the federal government. The European Court of Justice overturned the toll plans in June after contracts had already been signed.

The finding is particularly explosive because, at the time of the CJEU judgment, contracts for toll collection had already been concluded with private operators. Acting Transport Minister Scheuer had the contracts sealed in late autumn 2018. From the letters from the Chancellery Department, the question now arises as to why Scheuer did this despite considerable concerns at the top of the government – and also why they let him do it. The consequences can be serious for taxpayers. Since Scheuer terminated the contracts immediately after the judgment, the operators are now demanding compensation from the federal government in the amount of 560 million euros.

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opinion Car toll investigation

In the opinion of the Greens parliamentary group, Oliver Krischer, the reason for this could be an “eye-to-and-through” mentality. Krischer said to WELT: “There were clear warnings in the various ministries and in the Chancellery,” but these were “completely ignored in the Ministry of Transport and by the CSU ministers”. Krischer’s group colleague Stephan Kühn, member of the parliamentary investigation committee on car tolls, also takes a look at the Chancellor.

The evaluations of Merkel’s experts are “clear”, said Kühn WELT. “The Chancellery, and thus Angela Merkel”, knew early on that “the CSU’s favorite project would probably not exist before the ECJ”. But “seeing eyes”, said Kühn, “the Chancellor let her Transport Minister Dobrindt and Scheuer drive against the wall.”