The European Parliament voted Wednesday to push the European Commission for more details on its deal with Germany to amend the country’s controversial plan to bring in a road tolling system.
The Parliament’s final text — approved with 510 votes, 126 against and 55 abstentions — calls on the European Commission to make public the agreement it reached with Berlin in December and to explain why it put an infringement case over the issue on hold.
Germany is one of the few countries that does not charge for using its highways. Its original plan would have charged drivers with vehicles registered abroad, while refunding the fees Germans paid through their taxes.
But Brussels challenged the plan, and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt announced a deal to water it down in December.
The revised proposal would cut rates for short-term vignettes, or stickers typically used by foreigners to show they have paid the toll, and introduce a tax refund for locals that is pegged to the environmental impact of their vehicle.
The resolution passed the Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee in February. MEPs gave Bulc a rough time in a plenary debate on the issue earlier this year.
“The European Parliament is vehemently opposed to the German plans for foreigners’ tolls and is rebuking the EU Commission for their secret collusion with the German government,” said German Green MEP Michael Cramer just after Wednesday’s vote.
“The German passenger car toll is unfair and contrary to EU law, but there is resistance on all fronts and the EU Parliament has also given a clear signal,” said Austria’s Transport Minister Jörg Leichtfried. He is seeking to build a coalition of Germany’s neighbors against the proposal.