The reasons why the CJEU decided to protect the right to pay in cash

An upcoming case before the CJEU could have important implications for the status of banknotes and coins as legal tender in the EU and whether Member States can pass legislation restricting the use of cash.

The Case

In 2015, two German citizens, Johannes Dietrich and Norbert Häring, tried to pay their monthly radio and television fees in cash. Citing its rule against cash payments, Hessischer Rundfunk, the public broadcaster for the Land of Hess (Germany), refused their request and sent them late fines of 60.50 €.

In a case that reached Germany’s Federal Administrative Court, the men challenged this arguing that under national and EU laws, the broadcaster has an “unconditional and unrestricted obligation to accept euro banknotes as a means for the settlement of monetary debts” that may only be waived by a contractual agreement between both parties or federal or EU authorization.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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