Saturday

13th Apr 2024

Report: Juncker threatened Merkel with legal action over road toll

  • Could a road toll also be introduced in the Netherlands and Belgium? (Photo: Robert Kirberich)

Germany’s plan to impose a de facto road tax on foreigners is continuing to cause friction between Brussels and Berlin.

Although a German government spokesperson immediately denied it, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported on Sunday (21 December) that EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker took the German plan up with chancellor Angela Merkel, threatening with legal action.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

At a recent party congress of the Christian Social Union (CSU), earlier in December, Juncker is said to have complained to Merkel about the electronic toll, which will have the net effect of only charging foreigners because German drivers will be able to deduct the costs from their vehicle tax.

Last Wednesday (17 December) the German cabinet approved the plan, which fulfils an election promise to CSU voters of Bavaria, a region in the heart of Europe that sees a lot of transit traffic. Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union is the CSU's sister party.

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which is generally well-informed, Juncker told Merkel that Germany risks an infringement procedure for violation of the EU treaty.

The paper also quotes a spokesperson for the German government, who denies that Juncker and Merkel spoke about the toll.

The German transport minister recently received a letter from European commissioner for transport, Violeta Bulc, in which she expressed her worry that the toll might breach “the treaty principle of non-discrimination”.

Meanwhile in Brussels, CDU politician Elmar Brok told the Suddeutsche Zeitung he fears his government will give neighbouring countries the idea for similar laws.

“I am concerned that Belgium and the Netherlands will also introduce a road toll”, said Brok, a member of the European Parliament.

With the German road tax, Belgium and the Netherlands would remain as rare 'free driving' countries in the western part of the European continent, where toll roads and vignette systems are common.

While in the Netherlands a plan for paying per kilometre has been cancelled by the government coalition partners in 2012, Belgium is the more likely candidate of the two to follow Germany.

For several years, a road toll that was to be paid via vignettes was a serious option in Belgium. However, in 2013 the government cancelled the plan after protests from the Netherlands and the European Commission.

Last July, when the German plan was being discussed, Belgian motorist clubs argued that if Germany were to introduce a toll, Belgium should too.

They feared that Belgian roads would become more congested if traffic from and to the Netherlands would go through Belgium instead of Germany.

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Opinion

Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.

Opinion

Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us