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PM: German toll is discriminatory

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Berlin, April 3 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is unhappy at the German toll introduced for cars as this is discriminatory, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico and German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday.
Merkel dismissed the allegation, arguing that the introduction of the fees for the use of German motorways did not discriminate against foreign drivers.
“I can put it clearly now that the German plan does not make us happy at all as this may discriminate against our entities,” Sobotka said.
He said Germany had the right to impose car motorway toll, but the system should be the same for all.
“Here in Germany, there is the proposal that Germans could deduct the fee they pay from their tax plan, which we consider discriminatory,” Sobotka said.
Merkel took issue with Sobotka.
“We do not consider it any discrimination against foreign drivers. I tried to explain this yesterday,” she said, adding that it was possible that Czechs could see it differently.
Merkel said Austria, too, had proceeded similarly when imposing a payment for the use of its motorways, but now it was about to sue Germany.
In connection with the introduction of the toll, Vienna, too, moderated the conditions for its drivers, she added.
Sobotka said a change in the German attitude would not be simple.
“There was a space to describe our position and arguments, nevertheless Germany seems to go in its own way,” Sobotka said after a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz.
“We will have to look for other opportunities with which to correct the German view,” Sobotka said.
These may be further talks with Germany, negotiations with the European Commission and a concerted strategy along with other countries critical of the German plan, he added.
Under the German plan, recently passed by the Bundestag, the motorway fees will only be paid by foreign drivers. The owners of the cars registered in Germany, too, will pay the toll, but subsequently their tax on cars will be lowered by the paid sum.
The owners of environment-friendliest cars will even receive a bigger tax relief than they will pay in the form of the fees.
Economic and transport cooperation was also on the agenda of the talks. Sobotka, Fico and Merkel agreed on enhancement of cooperation in the sphere of innovations, research and development and on a meeting of the three countries’ economy ministers.
Yesterday’s meeting was held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the good neighbourhood agreement between Czechoslovakia and Germany.
“I think this will be a good opportunity for us to stress the importance of Central European cooperation in Berlin because in the past 25 years, we have really managed to build solid bridges,” Sobotka said before the meeting.
“In my view, the solid bridges will sustain even the burden of possible differing views,” Sobotka added.
The 1992 good neighbourhood agreement between Czechoslovakia and Germany confirmed the existing borders and spoke for large-scale peaceful and partnership cooperation in all spheres. Germany pledged to back the Czech Republic’s membership of the European Communities.

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