A plan to introduce tolls on German roads, aimed mainly at foreigners, is dividing the country’s politicians.
Austria and Switzerland run similar schemes whereby tolls paid are determined by different tax discs on cars.
In the south the coalition partners in Bavaria, the CSU, are in favour of the plan, but in the rest of the country Angela Merkel’s CDU and their partners the SPD are against the idea and say it may break EU law.
“Wolfgang Schauble, the federal finance minister is known to be against the toll”, says CSU Chairman Horst Seehofer, “his suggestion is to make Germans themselves pay heavily, but for us that is out of the question. He’s pulling out all the stops to make this happen, and we won’t put up with it”.
Documents leaked to Der Spiegal magazine claim the plan is flawed and even loss-making.
But in Bavaria, where drivers often find themselves crossing over the border into other countries with similar schemes, the plan is being vigorously supported by the CSU, who are looking to make up for what they see as decreasing influence in the coalition.
Alexander Dobrindt, the federal transport minister and member of the CSU, says:
“I willingly paid the 64 euros because I drove over good roads to my holiday destination in Italy. All I am asking for is the same willingness from those who drive in to Germany and use our roads. I am not asking for anything else”.
Critics say the proposed toll is designed to fleece foreigners because German motorists would have to pay, on average, an 88-euro annual fee to use the roads but their annual car taxes would be reduced by the same amount. Thus the new toll would in effect only be paid for by foreign motorists.