Petrol retailers say the new Hungarian government regulation is unenforceable. International lawyers say it is against EU rules that non-Hungarian citizens cannot buy fuel at a discounted price. This is because the law discriminates against EU citizens.
The government decree to end petrol tourism was published just before midnight on Thursday, writes 24.hu. Cars with foreign registration plates will not be allowed to buy petrol at the reduced price of 480 forints.
From Friday, foreigners will only be able to buy petrol and diesel at the market price in Hungary.
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.”
Petrol stations have three days to adapt to the new regulation.
But the new regulation may not remain in force for long.
It is a fundamental EU rule that any discrimination between consumers is prohibited.
The dual pricing of fuel is in breach of EU rules on discrimination.
International lawyer Tamás Lattmann recalls a similar German example. The Germans wanted to make German motorways toll-free for foreign motorists. But EU law did not allow it. Dual pricing also raises consumer protection concerns. If the European Commission were to take action against Hungary, the Hungarian government could withdraw the regulation.
Austrian experts say non-Hungarians are also suffering negative price discrimination. Hvg.hu reports that Austrian car clubs have complained about Hungary. ARBÖ and ÖAMT are also questioning the legality of the restrictions.
Experts from both organisations believe that even if it is illegal, the investigation could take a long time.
Source: 24.hu, hvg.hu