In the controversy over the construction of the Lobau Tunnel, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce prepared an expert opinion, doubting that Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (The Greens) could legally order the construction to be frozen. The opinion of law firm KWR Karasek Wietrzyk concludes that the minister is not even allowed to issue such instructions to Asfinag in charge of construction. The ministry denied these allegations.
Lawyers argue that Asfinag’s board of directors runs the company “independently and independently of instructions.” The fact that Asfinag was the sole owner of the republic, whose name Gewessler acted as minister, did nothing to change the freedom of education. The minister can make requests to the board of directors or provide basic guidelines. In the opinion of the lawyers who wrote the report, they should not interfere with operational affairs – this includes construction projects.
They even think that “the current instruction may contain illegal content”. This would be the case, for example, if Asfinag has already entered into contracts with third parties that it now has to breach due to delay. Or as problems arose as a result of the construction freeze in subsequent projects (eg the city road to Seestadt Aspern).
Should the mandate cause tangible damage to Asfinag – and in expert opinion “it is clear” – the board of directors may risk compensating the company itself. “The report makes it very clear that action is needed for the board,” says Walter Ruck, chairman of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, in “Kurier”. “It should act in the best interests of the stock company. I assume the decision makers at Asfinag are aware of their responsibilities.”
The Chamber has been pressing for the Lobau Tunnel for years. A construction freeze is said to be devastating for urban development areas north of Vienna.
The climate protection ministry strongly opposed the presentation of the report on Friday. “The planning and development of transport infrastructure is a fundamental task of the ministry of climate protection. In this regard, all the steps taken were of course legally compliant – of course we checked this together with Asfinag. Regular coordination of the Asfinags construction program is also prescribed by the Law,” he said.