German states weigh congestion tax

German states weigh congestion tax
Photo: DPA
Several German states are considering a flat tax on drivers who use their vehicles in the city centre. The proposed charge of €6.10 per day is roughly equivalent to the price of a day pass for public transport.

So-called ‘congestion taxes’ are already in place in cities like London and Stockholm and apply to all personal vehicles entering and exiting the city centre.

Ahead of a meeting of transport ministers in Cottbus, the Baden-Württemberg transport minister Winfried Hermann, of the Greens Party, argued the tax is badly needed in order to “maintain and modernize the entire transport infrastructure.”

But the federal commissioner for tourism Ernst Hinsken, of the conservative Christian Social Union, warned against defrauding commuters and tourists.

Hinsken rejected the proposed tax, telling the Bild newspaper “the congestion charge is designed to fill the cash-strapped coffers of state and local authorities.”

He argued the tax would unfairly punish commuters who already face a “horrendous rise in petrol prices.”

The retail association HDE also rejected the new congestion charge. Vice President Lovro Mandac said the tax would make the city centre a less attractive shopping destination for customers. “The downtown shopping area is the soul of every city and each year it’s being hit with more taxes and fees,” he said.

State ministers and transport officials are expected to debate the pros and cons of the proposed tax at a two-day meeting kicking off on Thursday in Cottbus.

DAPD/The Local/sh

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