Hungary is planning to ban foreigners from doing ‘Petrol Tourism’.The government announced on Thursday (27 May) that from Friday, only cars with Hungarian registration plates will be allowed to fill up with petrol or diesel at the capped price of €1.32 (HUF 480) per liter.
Only Hungarian drivers will get fuel at discounted prices
People from other neighboring European countries are coming to take the advantage of Hungary’s cheapest gas. European Union is all set to investigate Hungary’s discriminatory petrol price rules. The European executive will look into the decision of Budapest to only allow cars with Hungarian license plates to get petrol at capped prices at Hungary’s petrol stations.
Hungarian Cabinet Minister, Gergely Gulyas told reporters on Thursday, that fuel prices capped at 480 forints per liter ($ 1.32) will be available only to drivers with Hungarian license plates. Whereas foreigners have to pay a different, higher price, he said.
European Executive to investigate the new regulations
The European Executive will now look into the Hungarian government’s plans to identify the scope, the content, the motivation, or the possible justification for such discriminatory prices for the consumers within the EU’s single market.
International lawyers find it against the EU’s rules that non-Hungarian citizens can’t buy fuel at discounted prices. According to petrol retailers, the new Hungarian government regulation is unenforceable.
According to Gábor Egri, President of the Independent Petrol Stations Association, the regulation is unenforceable and unserviceable. “We were shocked to learn that the government decree, which was published at 23:58, came into force two minutes later, at 00:00. We are now trying to adjust the registers to the market price according to the decree, which means that by default, the buyer will have to pay 720 forints for fuel unless they can prove with their registration certificate that the vehicle has Hungarian registration plates, in which case they will be charged the official price of 480 forints. This can lead to a lot of conflicts and atrocities because if you do not have the registration document, you have to pay the higher price.”
This shall not last for long as it is in violation of the fundamental EU rule which prohibits any discrimination between the consumers. The dual prices of fuel are in breach of EU rules on discrimination.
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Tamás Lattmann, an international law also recalls a similar German example. The Germans wanted to make German motorways toll-free for foreign motorists. But the EU law did not allow it.
Austrian complaints against the restrictions
Austrian experts say that non-Hungarians are suffering from negative price discrimination. According to Hvg.hu, Austrian car clubs have complained about Hungary. Organisations such as ARBO and OAMT are checking for the legality of the restrictions that Hungary is imposing. Experts from these two organistions believe that the investigation will take a long time, even if it is illegitimate.
On Hungary’s part, these restrictions were put in place to contain the fallout from spiraling inflation. The central bank of Hungary believes the inflation will exceed 10% from the past year in the coming months. Hence, Hungary finds these restrictions as the last resort to curb the inflationary trend.
Now, this might lead the EU to impose sanctions on Hungary for not giving the fuel at lower prices to its neighboring countries.
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