A human rights complaint centring on Romania’s decision to impose a pollution tax on vehicles purchased in European Union countries has been dismissed by Strasbourg judges.
In its decision in the case of Alexandru-Mihai Pop and Others v. Romania (applications nos. 54494/11, 67699/11 and 21251/12) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible.
The case concerned the requirement for the applicants to pay a pollution tax based on an emergency ordinance (OUG no. 50/2008), for the purposes of registering in Romania the second-hand vehicles they had bought in other European Union countries.
The court dismissed the applications for failure to exhaust domestic remedies.
In the case of two applicants (Pop and Raita), the court considered that the remedy introduced by another emergency ordinance (OUG no. 52/2017), in force since 7 August 2017, afforded them an opportunity to obtain reimbursement of the pollution tax and payment of the corresponding interest.
It also set out clear and foreseeable procedural rules, with binding time-limits and the possibility of an effective judicial review.
The remedy provided by OUG no. 52/2017 thus represented an effective remedy for the purposes of Article 35 of the convention.
The third applicant (Golea) acknowledged that he had not taken any steps at national level to recover the interest he was claiming (the pollution tax and some of the interest had been refunded following a final ruling by a national court) and did not put forward any argument showing that such an approach would have been ineffective.