Germany to charge foreign motorists for autobahn use

Vehicles along road near Munich Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Germany's fast roads are popular with foreign motorists

Germany has announced plans to tax the millions of foreign motorists who use its roads, including the famous autobahn motorway, from 2016 onwards.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the levy should raise 2.5bn euros (£1.98bn) over four years.

Vehicles will be issued with badges, costing between 10 euros for 10 days and about 100 euros for a year-long permit.

Critics of the planned toll say it violates EU anti-discrimination laws.

While vehicles registered in Germany will also have to pay the charge, their owners will be compensated by an equivalent reduction in a separate car tax.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Alexander Dobrindt's party campaigned on a promise to tax foreign road users

Austria and the Netherlands have complained about the planned tax, the AFP news agency reports.

However, Mr Dobrindt has insisted that the law - due to be passed this year - does not violate EU rules against discrimination.

His conservative Christian Social Union party campaigned for a toll in last year's elections.

The party's base is in the southern region of Bavaria, where residents have long complained of having to pay to use roads in neighbouring Austria and Switzerland, while motorists from those countries pay nothing to drive in Germany.

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