Free public transport of Tallinn, Estonia: A case to justify (reverse) discrimination on the basis of residence

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 894-908
Publication Date 2017
ISBN 0307-5400
Content Type

Since 2013 Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, has provided free public transportation to its registered residents to promote additional registrations in order to increase its tax revenue indirectly. The system is not conditional on the resident having made any contribution to the budget or actually physically being resident in Tallinn. The Court has not indicated that it would accept the right of local self-management as legitimation of indirect discrimination against "moving" EU citizens. Cases that have accepted the requirement of a connection between the society of the Member State and the recipient of a benefit, or public policy, public security or public health as legitimate aims for justification of different treatment do not seem to fit the context of Tallinn. Accordingly, the system is likely to be illegal under EU law. National constitutional law, however, accepts local self-management as a justification. This difference between determining what may constitute a justification under EU law and under national constitutional law may be a key factor in preventing a spillover of EU law to residence-based discrimination against own nationals. Reverse discrimination against own nationals (residents and non-residents of a particular local government) may thus, in certain circumstances, be justified.

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