Germany plans to levy a toll on all foreign-registered cars using its road network, including the high-speed Autobahn, from 2016.
Under the current proposal all cars, regardless of which country they’re registered in, will have to pay a road use fee. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a 10-day pass will cost around 10 euros ($14.50) and a sticker valid for two months will set drivers back about 20 euros ($29).
Annual permits are estimated to cost over 100 euros ($145), but the exact price will be determined by a car’s age, its engine capacity and emissions rating. All up the new charge is expected to generate around 600 million euros ($870 million) annually that will go towards maintaining Germany’s roads, as well constructing new ones.
Drivers of German-registered vehicles will be refunded the full amount of this new fee through a rebate on their vehicle tax. Although this is a circuitous route for maintaining the status quo, it’s believed that this set-up will help the new revenue raising measure, in the words of German transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, “conform with EU law”.
The European Union has strict laws against discrimination and also forbids member nations from prohibiting the free movement of people between countries. Deutsche Welle reports that Austria is planning to “use all legal means” to prevent the enactment of this new charge.
Currently Germany’s Autobahn network is free to use for all vehicles under 3.5 tonnes.
Dobrindt’s party in the ruling coalition government, the Bavarian Christian Social Union, campaigned heavily at the last election on closing the “fairness gap”, or the perceived inequality where drivers in southern Germany have to pay road tolls in Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, but no such impost is placed upon cars from those countries.