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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

EU's top court rules Spanish $18 billion fuel tax illegal, paves way for compensation claims

BRUSSELS - The European Union's top court has ruled that a fuel tax applied by Spanish regions to help finance health care is illegal, possibly opening the door to compensation claims totalling millions of euros (dollars).

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice said Thursday that the way the gas station tax was set up violated EU laws.

The tax brought in some 13 billion euros ($18 billion) between 2002 and 2011. Affected consumers can now reclaim the tax in court.

The case was brought by a transport company that paid some 45,000 euros in taxes on gas or diesel over three years.

The court noted the EU Commission, the 28-nation bloc's executive arm, warned Spanish authorities already in 2001 about the tax' insufficient legal base.

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