Eugh ruling on car toll: this time it’s not the greens who are making driving more expensive

On tuesday, the european court of justice will rule on austria’s lawsuit against the german car toll. It could apply afterwards already starting from october.

Whether "alexander dobrindt fails" or not will be clarified on tuesday before the european court of justice. For then, the controversial German toll on cars, which former CSU leader Horst seehofer had once so loudly promised his party colleague and then Federal Transport Minister Dobrindt would be implemented, will be discussed there.

But the toll has still not been introduced. Austria had appealed to the EU’s highest court, arguing that the charge was incompatible with the European treaties because it discriminated against Austrians and all other EU citizens except Germans. This would mean that Germany would be in breach of the ban on discrimination against EU citizens. Austria was supported in the action by the netherlands.

But there is some evidence that dobrindt will celebrate a late success on tuesday after all. At the beginning of february, for example, an important expert at the eugh, the advocate general, did not raise any european law concerns against the car toll planned by the federal government. In doing so, he is urging the court to reject the austrians’ infringement claim. Although the eugh is not bound by the expert opinion. In most cases, however, the advocate general and the judges come to the same conclusion.

With green light from luxembourg, transport minister andreas scheuer (CSU) wants to impose tolls from october 2020. Preparations are in full swing. Last year, the federal government concluded agreements to regulate the collection and monitoring of tolls on passenger cars.

No costs for german drivers

The plans, which played a key role in the CSU’s 2013 federal election campaign, envisage all drivers paying a toll on trunk roads. Drivers are to buy vignettes. For foreign vehicles, ten-day and two-month vignettes are offered in addition to the annual vignette. In return, owners of cars registered in germany are to receive a credit on their vehicle tax. This is how the costs for German vehicle owners are to be completely offset.

It is an electronic vignette. In the future, every owner of a car or motor home will have to pay the toll in advance for one year at a time. After that, the system will activate the authorization to drive on long-distance roads that is linked to the license plate.

One brought it on, the other has to foot the bill. The CSU's Alexander Dobrindt (left) and Andreas Scheuer

The price of the toll sticker for cars is based on engine capacity and environmental characteristics. The vignette price is staggered for every 100 cubic centimeters of engine capacity or part thereof. For motor homes, it’s all about weight. A maximum of 130 euros per year will be due. Vehicles with vintage license plates must also pay this amount.

In return, the vehicle tax is reduced by the same amount. Owners of vehicles that are already registered will automatically receive the notification from the authorities when the toll starts and will have to pay the amount. In future, the toll will have to be paid together with the vehicle tax when registering a new vehicle.

600 million euros in revenue expected

Foreign vehicle owners, on the other hand, would then have to pay for the use of freeways. They can choose between a vignette for ten days, two months and one year. The vignettes can be purchased on the internet, via an app on a cell phone or at a local payment station. Even for foreign vehicles, the amount of the toll is based on the environmental characteristics that the vehicle owner must enter when purchasing the toll sticker.

In this way, revenues of 845 million are expected. The cost of collection and control is expected to be 245 million euros. If the figures are correct, this would leave a profit of 600 million euros. these proceeds should be used for road construction. However, the bureaucratic effort involved is considerable.

More on the topic

"CSU regulars’ project" costs of car toll rise to 128 million euros

A traffic sign informs motorists on the city highway in Rostock that they must pay a toll to pass through the Warnow Tunnel

In addition, there is criticism that every driver pays the same, regardless of whether they travel a few kilometers on the network or cover long distances. A mileage-based billing, on the other hand, would have an ecological steering effect. If the eugh gives the green light to the german car toll, austria, which already levies a road toll, wants to examine an additional toll for foreigners based on the german model.

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Christina Cherry
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