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Germany Sets Up “Foreigner” Autobahn Toll Over Neighbor Complaints

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history of the autobahn

We all know about the Autobahn: Germany’s famous highway system where high speeds are not only encouraged, but are required. However, such a famous landmark has the same sort of problems that our own highway system has—repeated heavy use requires mending, which costs money.

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So, how do most roads make money? One of the big solutions is to set up tolls, and that is just what the German government has done, over objections from neighboring countries, pending approval by the German parliament.

Basically how the plan works is that to use the Autobahn system, drivers can buy passes, either for the short term (primarily to be used by visitors) or for up to a year. The price of the annual pass is the same for German or foreign cars, but German drivers essentially get that money back in a matching reduction of their motor vehicle taxes.

As a result, the only people who are ending up truly out the money of a pass are foreigners. Neighboring countries Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands have all protested the toll, with Austrian Transport Minister Joerg Leichtfried  saying that he was discussing with the other countries on whether to lodge a complaint with the EU for violating the “principle of equal treatment.”

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Germany doesn’t seem particularly fazed, though—German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt pointed out that Austria has had a toll system for 20 years to pay for road infrastructure, adding that Austria should “show a bit more composure and end this grumbling about the toll.”

News Source: The Local (in English)