Taxing foreign drivers: German Cabinet OKs car toll aimed at raising money from foreigners

BERLIN – Beware foreign drivers: Germany’s Cabinet has approved plans for a car toll on the country’s highways that aims to raise money from foreign drivers and has caused friction with Brussels.

The bill approved by ministers Wednesday is a watered-down version of a plan that originally foresaw a car toll — which, unlike many European countries, Germany so far lacks — being applied to all roads.

All road users would pay starting in 2016, but German car owners would be compensated by an equivalent cut in a separate car tax. Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said the plan would raise 500 million euros ($624 million) per year.

Dobrindt said the plan is “worthwhile, fair and just” and insisted it complies with European law but the European Commission has raised questions over that.