Austria can protect cash better than before by changing its constitution. This has now been highlighted by German cash expert Norbert Hering (60). Above all, all government agencies must ensure that in future all “duties and fees as well as services of majority-owned public companies” can be paid “with euro cash”. This would be a significant improvement. This is not guaranteed at this time.
His suggestion may be important.
Useless, possibly harmful, certainly ridiculous: When Chancellor Nehmer and Finance Minister Brunner (both ÖVP) announced the planned protection of cash in the constitution in August, some media and politicians scoffed. Firstly, only dubious conspiracy theorists fear that cash will be abolished, secondly, cash has been protected in existing EU treaties since 1999, thirdly, Austria as a national state has no such protective regulation. There is no capacity for, the EU is solely responsible here.
In short: the Austrian people’s fears and the government’s constitutional plans are “populist nonsense” (an Austrian daily newspaper), “complete nonsense” (EU MP Othmar Karas), an “election campaign lie” (constitutional lawyer Heinz Meyer). “cron”).
Upon closer inspection, this is not true. National bank boss Robert Holzmann was the first to point out that existing protections were insufficient: “EU law does not regulate whether cash is accepted as a means of payment. “It needs to be accelerated,” he explained to “Chron.” In the Netherlands, twelve percent of pharmacies no longer accept cash. “Stop the start,” warned Holzman. In addition, cash must also be available – for example via an ATM.
However, the question is whether Austria can actually do anything concrete to protect the cash. In Germany, section 14 of the Bundesbank Act came into conflict with European law: according to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the paragraph which declared cash the sole legal tender was unacceptable. It is encroaching on the competences of the EU.
Yes, there are loopholes in European law. Hardly anyone knows this better than German bestselling author and economic expert Norbert Hering (60). As he shows on his blog, cash is not currently adequately protected by EU law. Furthermore, there are a number of ways to close loopholes at the national level, without violating existing EU law.
The award-winning business journalist and doctor of economics has already tackled the dangers of cash in books such as “The Abolition of Cash and the Consequences: The Path to Total Control”. What’s easy to forget in the debate: It’s not just shops, cinemas etc that should be forced to accept cash. It also includes the state, its administration and the companies belonging to the state. Here, the EU actually leaves it free for each member state to decide whether to commit to accepting cash or even ban it by law. The second would be highly problematic in terms of fundamental rights: everyone except the state could then be forced to accept cash.
Norbert Herring knows from his own experience what he is talking about. He has filed a lawsuit in Germany for the right to receive cash payment for his broadcasting license. The process ended in the European Court of Justice, which ruled in 2021 that “EU member states may permit their authorities to refuse to accept cash.” But they may also have or pass laws that require officials to accept cash.” Heischer Rundfunk previously blocked the cash specialist from paying his broadcast fees in cash.
Conclusion: According to Herring, the ECJ “has decided that EU member states can allow their authorities to refuse to accept cash”. “But you can also have or pass laws that mandate officials to accept cash.” This means that the legislators of the member states still decide “on the modalities of settlement of monetary debts”.
Austria needs to craft its constitutional amendment correctly to avoid conflicts with European law. Norbert Herring explains this: “What should be possible without any problems according to the ECJ decision would be a constitutional regulation that would put all public bodies and possibly all companies with majority public ownership at no disadvantage to payers other than Without obliges to accept cash.” Connect payment instruments. “This applies at both the federal level and the state level.”
In addition, it would also “require individual creditors to accept cash for reasons of public interest. For example, the interest may be in protecting those who do not have an account.” It is therefore possible to introduce the obligation to accept cash through national laws or constitutional amendments to areas related to fundamental rights such as “public transport, pharmacies, post offices, supermarkets, parking garages, water and energy suppliers, toll roads, etc.” ” ,
Such regulation then applies to “the protection of rights, such as participation in public life even without an account, protection of health or privacy.”
There will be no disproportionate costs. “There are service providers who accept cash on your behalf efficiently and for little money.”