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VIENNA/BERLIN, March 31 Austria said on Friday
it would file a legal challenge against plans by Germany to
introduce a road toll for foreign-registered cars using German
Cross-border traffic between the two countries is common and
a frequently used route connecting the city of Salzburg to the
west of Austria passes through a part of Germany.
"We are taking legal action in Luxembourg," Austrian
Transport Minister Joerg Leichtfried told reporters, apparently
referring to the seat of the European Court of Justice, the
European Union's top court.
"Italians have to pay, the French have to pay, Austrians
have to pay -- only Germans don't. I believe that is
discriminatory and against European law."
Leichtfried's comments came hours after the toll plan, which
the European Commission approved in January after adjustments
were made, cleared Germany's upper house of parliament.
Austria's legal action, though not fundamentally affecting
its ties with Germany, marks an ugly episode at a time when the
EU is trying to project unity as it gears up for negotiations
with Britain over its departure from the bloc.
The toll will cost vehicles up to 130 euros ($139) a year,
which German drivers will be able to recover through tax
It will take effect as soon as President Frank-Walter
Steinmeier signs it into law, likely in coming days. However, it
is expected to take around two years to build the payment
infrastructure for the tolls to come into use.
(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle and Francois Murphy in Vienna, and
Michelle Martin and Paul Carrel in Berlin; Editing by Vin
Shahrestani and John Stonestreet)