To mark the beginning of budget negotiations, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a member of the center-right Christian Democratic Union, had a clear message for his fellow cabinet members: The country could face paralysis unless everyone tightens his belt.
The federal government aims to invest in infrastructure to “strengthen the robustness of growth,” but this can only occur with new sources of income, in Mr. Schäuble’s view. His solution is to collect the money needed from road tolls, to avoid shaving off money from the budget elsewhere.
Still, there is potential trouble ahead. Now that opposition from the European Commission has deprived Germany of half a billion euros in anticipated revenues from a toll on foreign drivers, the government could see a shortfall of another €2 billion ($2.24 billion) starting in July 2018 – money the coalition government had hoped to raised by charging a toll for trucks on all federal roads.