Germany to charge foreign drivers on Autobahn

Monday 07 July 2014 14.41
Drivers registered outside Germany are to pay about €10 for a 10-day badge and over €100 for an annual pass
Drivers registered outside Germany are to pay about €10 for a 10-day badge and over €100 for an annual pass

Germany plans to charge foreign motorists from 2016 to use its roads and famed Autobahn highways to help pay for the country's infrastructure, the transport minister said today. 

Drivers of cars and motorcycles registered outside Germany are to pay about €10 for a ten-day badge, €20 for a two-month permit and over €100 for an annual pass.

The exact cost of 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 but will 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 that "non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of EU law", but declined to comment specifically on Dobrindt's plans.

Neighbouring countries including Austria and the Netherlands have already complained about the German proposal, which Dobrindt said would be formalised 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 for Germany's public coffers over four years.

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

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