Civil proceedings began on November 22 in the district court of Eisenstadt over the closure of the border crossing between Schattendorf (Somfalva, Austria) and Ágfalva (Hungary), Magyar Nemzet reports. A German-Hungarian law firm has filed a lawsuit against the municipality of Schattendorf in Austria over the placement of retractable bollards and a pedestrian zone at the border crossing. The amount in dispute is 0.27 euro cents.
The law firm NZP Nagy Legal is claiming 0.27 euro cents compensation from the municipality of Schattendorf, because the border closure introduced in the summer forced those crossing the border to take a detour between Ágfalva and Schattendorf, causing increased petrol consumption.
We offered to make a deal for 0.20 euro cents, but the municipality refused, saying the amount was not in the budget,”
Dr. Péter Taller, a lawyer at the law firm, told Magyar Nemzet. Of course, the amount of money is not important. The lawyers initiated the compensation proceedings in order to eventually take the case to court.
The pre-trial discovery procedure at the Eisenstadt Regional Court in late November was promising. “Austrian judges are quite open about how they see the legal situation beforehand. According to the judge, the border closure may be illegal under the Schengen Borders Code, stating that no barriers are allowed to be erected at border crossings,” explained Máté Ruzicska, another associate at the law firm.
However, this is not the only front line on which they are “attacking:” they are also trying to get the European anti-fraud office (OLAF) to intervene, based on the fact that the European Union has previously given EUR 500,000 to renovate the border crossing.
Taxpayers’ money was used to renovate the border crossing, and when motorists started using it, they suddenly realized that it was no good and built a border barrier,
the lawyers pointed out. Through a public interest request, they now know that the municipality of Schattendorf spent EUR 120,000 on this. The lawyers are trying to make it clear that they do not want to create the impression of fraud, as even the municipal administration was different at the time of the road renovation, but what has happened certainly raises the question of the misuse of EU funds. The case is now in front of OLAF, but when a decision will be made is unpredictable.
The European Commission is also investigating whether the situation is in line with EU law and is expected to respond in the coming months.
The judgment in the compensation case can be relied on later.
On the last day of the hearing, the head of the local government office made it clear that the closure of the border had no other purpose than to keep Hungarian commuters out,
Dr. Taller pointed out.
Accoring to the lawyers, the Social Democrat mayor had earlier gone even further, warning in an interview that he would decide who could enter the village. The two lawyers did not want to speculate, but simply reminded the newspaper that in the last municipal elections, the central theme of the campaign was that “Hungarian commuters make the city unlivable.”
Indeed, the issue had become a national one. When it emerged that the Austrian Ombudsman, appointed under the previous government, had also launched an investigation, there were calls for the dismissal of these Social Democratic party politicians for “representing foreign interests.”
Via Magyar Nemzet, Featured image: Ungarn Heute