This content is not available in your region

Berlin budget balancing hit by commuter court ruling

 Berlin budget balancing hit by commuter court ruling
Text size Aa Aa

A court decision in Germany means the government will have to give back 7.5 billion euros to the country’s commuters.

The court ruled illegal a decision last year to reduce the amount of subsidies people could claim for their journeys to and from work.

One jubilant commuter said: “Everyone knew that it was unconstitutional, but we couldn’t do anything. And now I feel we have the support of the courts. Finally there’s an institution which has heard the people’s heartfelt cry.”

The court decision will make it more difficult for Berlin to balance its budget, but Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said: “We’re not going to do anything to get this money from taxpayers in any other way. The economy in its current state couldn’t cope with that.”

Steinbrueck is trying to put the best face on the defeat saying the money that the commuters will get should provide a boost to spending and therefore the German economy.

Particularly happy are the people who brought the court case, including baker Heino Hambrecht who said the subsidy change cost him 470 euros a year.

However, the German government is planning to introduce new laws by 2010 which would reinstate the subsidy cuts.