EU's highest court rules against German road toll

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) last Tuesday ruled against the implementation of tolls by non- residents on German motorways as it discriminates foreign drivers and breaches EU law, new wires reported. The case was brought to the court by Austria with support from the Netherlands, which claimed that the economic burden of the toll would fell solely on drivers from EU countries other than Germany.

According to Austrian Transport Minister Andreas Reichhardt, the court's decision was a strong show of support for the bloc's single market. “It's a signal of fairness for Europe. I expect that the plans will be scrapped, or that they will have to be adapted in a massive way,” he pointed out adding that Vienna was keen to help Berlin after having positive experiences with Austria's own toll blueprint that applies uniformly to all vehicle holders.

The ruling means Germany cannot introduce the toll, which was due to take effect in October 2020. It had passed a law in 2015 establishing the charge for passenger cars that used the country’s highways. Those with cars registered in Germany would have been charged an annual fee of up to €130, but they would have been given a corresponding reduction in motor vehicle tax.

Drivers living elsewhere would also have needed passes to drive on German highways, again up to a maximum of €130 a year. That worried Austrian drivers, because the fastest east-west route across mountainous Austria involves a shortcut through Germany called the “German corner”. Austria complained that the tax relief for German residents effectively meant only foreign drivers were truly paying the charge.

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