Industryweek 6984 Autobahnatnight 1

Germany to Charge Foreign Drivers for Using Autobahn

July 7, 2014
Foreign drivers make 170 million trips to or through Germany per year and predicted the new tolls would yield $3.4 billion for Germany's public coffers over four years.

BERLIN -- Germany plans to charge foreign motorists from next year for using its roads and famed Autobahn highways to help pay for the country's infrastructure, the transport minister said Monday.

Drivers of cars and motorcycles registered outside Germany will have to pay about 10 euros ($13) for a 10-day badge, 20 euros for a two-month permit and over 100 euros for an annual pass.

The exact cost for the one-year badge will depend on a vehicle's engine size, age and emissions, said the minister, Alexander Dobrindt, as he presented his plan at a press conference.

German motorists will also have to pay up but will then be compensated through a break on their motor vehicle tax in a proposal Dobrindt insisted would "conform with EU law."

In Brussels, a spokeswoman for EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas cautioned about the planned foreigners-only fee that "non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of EU law," while declining to comment specifically on Dobrindt's plans.

Neighboring countries including Austria and the Netherlands have already complained about the German proposal, which Dobrindt said would be formalized into a law this year.

Dobrindt said foreign drivers make 170 million trips to or through Germany per year and predicted the new tolls would yield 2.5 billion (US$3.4 billion) euros for Germany's public coffers over four years.

The new toll was a key demand in last year's elections made by Dobrindt's Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

The plan played well with southern German drivers who have long been disgruntled over having to pay highway tolls in neighboring Austria and Switzerland while foreign motorists have traversed Germany for free.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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