Germany approves controversial ‘foreigner’ Autobahn toll

The German government on Wednesday approved a draft law to introduce road tolls on the country's famed motorways or Autobahns, despite objections from neighbouring countries who say the charges discriminate against foreign drivers.

Germany approves controversial 'foreigner' Autobahn toll
Photo: DPA.

The legislation, which still needs to go through parliament, is the result of a compromise struck with the European Commission last month after it threatened to take Germany to court if the toll project was not made fairer.

Under the revised plans, the government agreed to reduce the cost of short-term passes, which are most likely to be used by visitors, with prices for a 10-day pass now starting at 2.50 euros ($2.6) for the most
environmentally friendly cars.

The price for an annual pass will be capped at 130 euros for German and foreign cars, but German-registered drivers will essentially be refunded the money thanks to a matching reduction on their motor vehicle tax bill.

The project has angered neighbouring Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands who see the toll as a levy on foreign cars only.

Austrian Transport Minister Joerg Leichtfried on Wednesday said he was discussing with other countries whether to file a joint complaint against Germany's proposed Autobahn toll, which he said violated the EU's “principle of equal treatment”.

But German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt hit back, saying that Austria has had a toll system of its own for the past 20 years to finance its road infrastructure.

“It's time for Austria to show a bit more composure and end this grumbling about the toll,” he said in Berlin.

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