Germany’s government has approved plans to impose tolls on its previously free autobahns. The move comes after Berlin finally reached an agreement with the European Union which had criticised its original proposals.
Germany said the new charges will shift the financing of roads to the user.
Berlin has tweaked plans for the road toll scheme to make it compliant with EU rules. All cars will pay the tolls but German registered cars will get tax relief. For foreigners short-term tax discs will be available. The toll will be cheaper for environmentally friendly cars.
Germany has imposed a toll on trucks using its roads since 2005, but it is currently one of the few European countries to allow car drivers to use its highways at no extra charge.
However, the cost of maintaining Germany’s extensive autobahn network has increased pressure to charge drivers. Germans pay for the upkeep of the autobahns through their taxes, and there has been growing resentment that foreigners can use the roads for free.
Meanwhile, 11 EU countries under the leadership of Austria have objected to the toll scheme. They claim it discriminates against foreign registered vehicles and aim to form an alliance for a possible joint court case.
The charges are set to take effect after Germany’s federal elections in September.