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Germany Cautioned Over Motorway Toll Plans

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

10 January 2014

European Union (EU) Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas has issued a stern warning to German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt regarding his motorway car toll (Pkw-Maut) plans, making clear that any envisaged rebates must also apply to foreign motorists.

Underscoring that the introduction of a car toll in Germany must be in accordance with the basic principles of European Union law, EU Transport Commissioner Kallas insisted that free vignettes and toll rebates must not be granted solely to owners of cars registered in Germany.

Alluding to Dobrindt's plans to implement a vignette system, differentiated according to vehicle emission levels, Commissioner Kallas maintained that while a certain amount of differentiation is possible, depending on emissions class, provisions must apply to all cars, irrespective of their country of registration.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels pointed out that non-discrimination is a fundamental principle enshrined in EU law, noting that this includes car tolls as well as everything else. The Commission has already made known its position on the issue during recent talks with the German Government, the spokesperson revealed. Concluding, the spokesperson explained that although there is scope for flexibility, this is provided that a level playing field is ensured.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt aims to draft a bill this year, providing for the introduction of a EUR100 (USD136) motorway car toll in Germany. As part of efforts to guarantee that the fiscal burden does not increase on German motorists as a result, Dobrindt recently recommended that the charge be differentiated, with a rebate accorded for environmentally friendly, low-emission vehicles.

Furthermore, Dobrindt advocated introducing weekly, monthly, and annual vignettes, to ensure that motorists are not required to pay full price for occasional use of the motorway network.

TAGS: individuals | environment | tax | European Commission | law | tax rates | Germany | tax breaks | European Union (EU) | Europe

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