The toll began as a populist number in the election campaign, with the usual mix of pressure, threat and extortion. It must become more than a monument to Dobrindt and Seehofer.
In politics, success in the end often leads to forgetting the unfair motives that marked the beginning of the idea. So the CSU could now go with one of its biggest prestige projects, the car toll. Because the unequivocal vote of the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice that foreign vehicle owners would not be discriminated against by a German car toll, suggests that Austria will fail with its lawsuit against the German plans, so the toll actually comes.
It would be a late satisfaction for the CSU, especially for the former Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt and his then party leader Horst Seehofer, who had devised the whole thing before the state and parliamentary elections in 2013.
Nothing speaks against a toll on German motorways and highways, on the contrary. Instead of shifting the costs of construction and the extensive maintenance of the road infrastructure to all taxpayers, users – and thus also the users – would be more involved in this infrastructure. Other European countries have such a toll long ago, with different models that are sometimes more, sometimes less fair. The most sensible system seems to be practiced in Italy: How much you pay depends on the number of kilometers you drive.
The system of the Austrians is especially insidious
The Austrians, who are excited about the German plans, should rather be completely silent about rip-offs. Because their system is particularly insidious for foreign users. The short-term vignettes were namely quickly abolished. Since then, who wants to or through Austria, must always buy at least a ten-day vignette. Too long for the weekend trip, but of course always too short for the two- or three-week summer vacation.
However, any environmental or transport policy considerations did not play any role in the CSU toll concept at the time. If we have to pay everywhere, the others should also pay us, was the plain message. A pure populist number for the election campaign, true to the old CSU maxim, according to which the party must always have the sovereignty over the Stammtisch.
For a long time the CSU was alone with its toll plan, which was linked to the promise that German motorists should pay no more. Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted in 2013 that there would be no car toll with her. But with the usual mix of pressure, threat and blackmail, Bavaria succeeded in anchoring its project in the coalition agreement and overcoming all the hurdles of parliament.
If the ECJ follows the recommendation of its Advocate General in its ruling, the way would be clear for the car toll. It is then important to make them through wise design to a meaningful project and not to a political monument for Seehofer and Dobrindt. This would include giving up the nonsensical idea of compensation for German motorists on the motor vehicle tax and reorganizing the whole system. Best of all, by abolishing the car tax and cutting the tax advantage for diesel. This would have the compensation Murks dissolved in the air, because then it would be the same for everyone.