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Germans Pay Up for Eco-Tax

Germany protects polluting industries from EU standards, but starting in 2002 individuals must pay more for petrol.

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Passing it on to consumers

The inaugural tax for Germany's euro era, an "eco-tax", pushing up the price for oil products in a governmental effort to encourage environmental safety, is already on the books.

Though it passed the parliament in 1999 – this is stage four of a gradual tax increase – political debate over the hike remains high, with conservative Christian Democrats complaining of "pickpocketed citizens."

The new tax increases the state take on every litre of oil by €0.036 ($0.03), up from €0.624. It pushes the price of diesel fuel to €0.79 and regular unleaded to €0.939.

It represents a major victory for the Greens, the junior partner in Germany’s federal government in coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democratic Party. But there is some irony to the government’s stance.

While consumers will pay more each time they fill up their gas-tanks, Schröder is still negotiating, with some difficulty, a deal with the European Union to keep standards relatively low for polluting German industries such as mining.

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