Photo: Dickelbers, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

German businesses call for toll expansion to be stopped or delayed: “The open market is killing us”

The Lower Rhine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) is urging Germany's ruling coalition to delay the extension of the toll to vehicles under 7.5 tonnes. Meanwhile, the German hauliers' organisation BLV-pro e.V. warns of serious consequences from the changes set for July and also appeals to the government: "Protect us from social dumping and unfair competition!"

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From 1 July this year, vehicles with a technically permissible gross weight of between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes intended for or used in the carriage of goods by road will be subject to the German road toll. Vehicles used by craftsmen are exempt from the toll under certain conditions, but the German government has only recently defined these conditions in detail.

“Exceptions lead to uncertainty among companies. Construction companies and agricultural businesses are exempt from the fee. An event technician is subject to the levy, an electrician is not, a gardening company has to pay, and a farmer does not,” states Stefan Dietzfelbinger, CEO of the Lower Rhine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents companies from the districts of Wesel and Kleve as well as Duisburg, on

2It depends on what is being transported. How should this be controlled remains another question,” asks Dietzfelbinger rhetorically. He also points out that the list of industries exempted from the toll was only recently published, leaving many companies unprepared.

“We demand that the toll issue be reconsidered and postponed for at least three months,” appeals the IHK director to the government.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, the extended toll will affect 200,000 vehicles nationwide and around 3,200 vehicles in the Lower Rhine area.

Hauliers’ organisation raises concerns

The transport organisation BLV-pro e.V. has also spoken out about the changes to the German toll scheduled for 1 July this year.

“Many haulage companies have not been able to fully pass on the recent toll increase to their customers from 1 November 2023, leading to an increase in industry insolvencies. The planned increase in road tolls poses a further challenge. It cannot be ruled out that in the future vehicles over 2.8 tonnes will also be taxed, and the toll will increase further,” said Konstantin Popov, director general of the association.

Popov warns that the effects of these measures are manifold, worrying and have far-reaching consequences.

“We see rising inflation, rising prices of all goods, and disgruntled citizens whose cost of living will rise again. The number of business bankruptcies is steadily increasing. For many transport companies, staying competitive in these times is a huge challenge,” continues the association’s director general.

BLV-pro e.V. is therefore calling on politicians to reduce taxes and provide more support for the transport industry, instead of imposing further burdens on individual citizens. The association has sent a letter to the government stressing the importance of fair competition conditions for medium-sized companies.

“We don’t understand why you don’t allow us to work under fair, competitive conditions! Since 2020, we have been calling for single market conditions. The open market is killing us. Too many cheap suppliers from other countries with different cost structures are putting real pressure on us. Even in our industry, the middle class is dying, and big companies are able to exploit the differences between small market players to legally increase their margins,” states the association in a letter to the government.