Berlin and Brussels agree on road toll

After years of conflict, Berlin and Brussels have reached an agreement on revised plans for an autobahn toll: German motorists with particularly environmentally friendly cars can expect significant tax savings, while foreigners will have to pay according to use. The draft law must now be voted on by the Bundestag - and commentators have their doubts about whether it will pass.

Open/close all quotes
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Toll agreement a farce

It is by no means certain that the German parliament will approve the toll because it won't lead to a significant increase in revenues, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains:

“In itself, the idea of having users pay for motorways is not bad at all. The Swiss truck toll points the way: those who drive more kilometres put more strain on the roads, and should therefore pay more. But no one in Germany wants anything to do with a system that electronically records car data because of data protection concerns, so the only option is a flatrate toll. And private motorway operators like those in France are also out of question, as a recent debate about setting up a motorway company once again confirmed. If more money for road construction is really needed, a 1 cent per litre increase in petrol prices would be more effective - and less bureaucratic to boot.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Foreigners will still be the only ones to pay

Deutschlandfunk also doubts the legitimacy of the new toll for Germany's autobahns:

“For many German car drivers the new model will pay off. Those who drive a clean car according to Euro 6 emissions standards will pay less road tax than what the vignette used to cost. … But even if in the end there is a small surplus, there can be no talk of the road toll making a 'substantial contribution to the financing of infrastructure', as German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has loudly proclaimed. Only the government coalition partner the SPD or the European Court of Justice can stop this cock-up now. Because even with the new plan, Germany's road toll is to be paid only by foreigners.”