The European Union has finally approved Germany’s plan to introduce a toll for its autobahns and federal highways, ending months of dispute. The EU had initially argued the plans were discriminatory to foreign drivers.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the new tolls will also be linked to environmental criteria.
The original plan, approved by the Bundestag last year, was effectively designed to only impact foreign drivers – Germans were told that their payment would be deducted from existing road taxes.
But the European Commission complained the proposals would be discriminatory under EU rules and began a so-called infringement procedure, launched when a state fails to comply with key EU treaties.
“I am pleased that after years of discussions, [we] have found a solution to ensure that German roads will remain easily accessible for all EU citizens,” said Violeta Bulc, the EU’s Transport Commissioner.
Under the revised scheme, Germans with more fuel efficient cars will pay less and those with more polluting vehicles will pay more. Furthermore, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt agreed to a minimum fee of €2.50 for a 10-day pass and a maximum of €20. The EU had objected in particular to the planned costs for short-term visitors to Germany, saying that they were too high.
Also, the annual cost will be capped at €130 and charges will be levied via a sticker scheme, purchased in advance.
“The toll charge makes sense and is fair and just. It ensures that all drivers contribute adequately to the financing of our motorways,” Minister Dobrindt was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.