Under the EU toll directive, almost all motorists would have to pay a fee for using a motorway. Ministers in Germany could approve the draft document today (22 July).
German transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, said: “As regards member states that have already established a charging system, tolls or user charges shall be levied upon all vehicles expect coaches and buses.” It is thought that Germany will push for the blanket tolls as part of the country’s presidency of the European Union.
Although tolls are viewed as a way of tackling climate change, the plans are likely to be met with fierce opposition from some quarters. Autobahns, and the freedom to drive on some sections without a limit on speed, are ingrained in German culture.
A blanket fee would likely be as well received as the Green Party’s plans to impose a 130kph (80mph) speed limit on the autobahns.
‘A very emotional topic’
In an article in the New York Times, Stefan Gerwens, head of transport and mobility at the automobile club ADAC, said: “It’s a very emotional topic.” Cars account for 11 percent of total emissions in Germany – a speed limit of 75mph could cover a fifth of the gap to reach the 2020 emissions targets for the transport sector, it’s claimed.
European toll roads aren’t a new concept. Holidaymakers in France, Portugal and Spain will be familiar with paying a few Euros to drive on sections of motorways. In France, paying a toll is almost unavoidable if you want to make swift progress through the country.
Other countries take a different approach. In Austria, drivers must buy a vignette to use the motorways, with prices ranging from €8.50 for ten days, to €82.70 for an annual pass. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the vignette costs €40, which includes the use of the Gotthard and San Bernardino tunnels.
In the UK, the most famous toll road is arguably the M6 Toll in the West Midlands. Drivers also have to pay to use the likes of the Dartford, Tamar and Humber bridges.
German ministers will discuss the plans to impose a blanket motorway toll. If approved, the scheme is likely to be Germany’s official proposal for its presidency of the EU, which runs until the end of the year.