TAXING MATTER

Detour Ahead: German Road Toll Plan Slammed

toll_dpa
A sign on a German motorway that indicates to truck drivers that they are paying toll on this road. Will this sign soon also apply to foreign drivers?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Billions of euros are needed to pay for German road improvements and expansion. But there aren’t enough answers to many roadblocks to the toll ahead.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The proposed toll is estimated to generate about €2.5 billion every four years.
    • The new toll is now proposed to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
    • According to the transportation minister’s proposal, all car drivers would pay an average of €88 ($120) a year. For Germans, the cost would be offset by vehicle tax savings.
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    Audio

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Elmau Castle is among the finest accommodations in Germany. What better place to sweep away worries and cares than in a spa at this five-star hotel or on a hike at the foot of the surrounding Bavarian Alps?

At this luxury retreat over the weekend, Alexander Dobrindt, Germany’s transport minister, hosted Siim Kallas, his counterpart for transportation affairs at the European Commission. They wanted to talk informally about Mr. Dobrindt’s proposed passenger car toll on foreign drivers. Mr. Kallas has preached for months that any new toll would be OK – as long as it doesn’t discriminate.

The German transport minister is hoping for Mr. Kallas’ help on an issue that has taken a lot of heat recently – not just from opponents but from members of his own Christian Social Union, or CSU, the Bavarian faction of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, CDU. He is tasked with implementing a toll on highways that should not burden Germans − something he and CSU-head Horst Seehofer have been calling for during the federal election campaign last year.  The coalition agreement agreed last year bewteen Ms. Merkel’s CDU and her coalition partner the Social Democrats, SPD, called for the realization of the road tolls, but said it all must comply with European Union laws.

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