Brussels takes Germany to court over road toll | Business | Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 29.09.2016

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Brussels takes Germany to court over road toll

The European Commission has referred Germany to the European Court of Justice over a planned road toll. Brussels believes that the toll system discriminates against foreign drivers by giving Germans a better deal.

The EU executive on Thursday took Germany to court over the country's planned road toll system for Autobahn highways, which until now have been free to use for passenger cars.

The German parliament last year approved a draft law to introduce a road user charging system that would have granted vehicles registered in Germany a corresponding deduction from annual car taxes.

The system was set to start this year, but was postponed after Brussels challenged it on the grounds that foreign drivers would have to pay the toll with no compensation.

Crystal-clear discrimination?

Berlin would have charged drivers up to 130 euros ($145.8) a year to use Germany's Autobahn highways, and drivers of cars registered in the country would get back about the same amount in terms of tax reductions. The EU Commission views this as a clear case of discrimination.

Are Germany’s roadways crumbling?

Brussels said that any EU member country was free to introduce road charges for goods vehicles and passenger cars, but if it wanted foreigners to pay, then the charges must apply to all, it argued.

"Despite numerous exchanges with the German authorities since November 2014, the Commission's fundamental concerns have not been addressed," the EU executive said in a statement, justifying its move to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt welcomed the Commission's move Thursday, calling it "good news" that Brussels had finally "stopped dragging its feet on the matter." He once again insisted that the proposed road toll did not violate any EU laws.

hg/sri (AFP, Reuters)