German hauliers threaten ecotax protests

Industry claims significant "potential for protest" if dialogue with government fails

Germany's road haulage industry has said it may resort to blockades to protest against rising fuel prices if no compromise is reached in talks with the government over rising fuel prices. The industry claims that one company a month is currently facing bankruptcy due to environmentally inspired energy tax increases. Similar blockades have occurred in both France and the UK in the last year in protests against fuel price rises.

Under the first stage of Germany's ecotax programme, introduced last April, fuel prices are set to increase annually by euros 0.03 (DM0.06) for each of the next five years (ENDS Daily 21 April 1999). The haulage industry has attacked the tax rises as "unconstitutional," and last month announced it was taking legal action against the government (ENDS Daily 16 March).

In discussions with the transport ministry last week, BGL called for an end to increasing fuel prices and the immediate introduction of an EU-wide road pricing system. This was first supported by the European Commission in 1998 (ENDS Daily 22 July 1998). Germany is to introduce its own system in late 2002 (ENDS Daily 3 February). BGL describes the road pricing system as the "last chance" to introduce equal road pricing conditions in the EU.

The association will meet members of chancellor Gerhard Schröder's cabinet again later this month. "Without changes at a political level, the situation [for the industry] will escalate to the point where it is uncontrollable," BGL said in a statement yesterday. "We are optimistic that a solution can be reached, but we haven't ruled out the possibility of protest measures if it isn't," a spokesperson added.

Follow Up:
BGL, tel: +49 69 79 190 and press release.

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