News - September 11, 2014

Meanwhile in Germany

In the news: It looks likely that the toll on German roads is going to be imposed in spite of a heated political debate. There is a lot of criticism of the planned toll from over the border too, especially from the Netherlands and Austria. This is because German drivers will be compensated with a reduction in road tax, but people in foreign cars will have to pay the full whack.

Commentary by: Rebecca Kaup, BSc Molecular Life Sciences, from Sassenberg 

‘At government level, negotiations are going on about the plans, but a lot of things are not clear to the ordinary German. What is the level of the tax going to be? Will there be a toll on all roads or just on the autobahns? The government wants to compensate for the toll by reducing the car tax we pay. They should cancel each other out in the end. So in fact, we Germans won’t really notice the toll, but foreigners don’t get that compensation of course. A lot of Germans think that is unfair. The toll money will be used to maintain the German roads, but at the moment it looks as though that money will come entirely from foreigners. In the north-west of Germany, where I come from, there is a lot of discussion about the principle of whether it is fair to make only foreigners pay the toll. In the border regions, there are also economic interests at stake. Businesses are afraid that fewer tourists will come shopping across the border. And what about people who live just outside Germany but work inside the country. If they don’t have a German-registered car, they won’t get compensation. 

This would all be less problematic if the toll only applied to the autobahn. But some parties are still saying all the roads should be paid for. So for the time being a lot of things are still unclear and the discussion is not closed. 

I am not surprised the subject is in the news in the Netherlands as well. As a foreign student I would consider it unfair if I had to pay a tax here which my Dutch fellow-students were exempt from.’