Since opening the first autobahn freeway in 1921, Germany has kept these high-speed roads free for all travelers. However that may all change once Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to begin charging a toll goes for a vote, possibly this week. Unlike in other European countries, Merkel’s plan won’t be affecting German citizens, as the fees would only be charged to foreigners.
Drivers from neighboring countries are less than thrilled with the idea of a looming charge. With nine countries situated along 2,330 miles of German border, it should come to no surprise that these nations are no fans of the proposed law. In many of those countries, citizens find themselves driving on one of Germany’s many autobahn freeways quite often.
Mike Pinckaers, a spokesman for the Dutch drivers’ association ANWB, spoke out against Merkel’s plan saying that it could possibly erode “the European spirit.” He believes it would also threaten Europe’s reputation as a place of free flowing traffic.
When Merkel discussed her plan back in November with ZDF, a German broadcaster, she stressed its importance for keeping up with the infrastructure costs. “It’s important to me that no German will be burdened with more costs,” and that is why the charge will only affect non-citizens.
With millions of foreigners driving on the German autobahn every year, it may make sense that a toll would help keep the roads in better shape, however it may not be enough. According to an estimate from the German car club ADAC, the proposed fees would only raise around 260 million euros ($352 million), which is believed to be not nearly enough to cover the costs of keeping the aging autobahn in good shape.