Daily Brief 4 September 2013

Last updated 19:40 BST.


NEWS: Merkel rules out foreign driver tax – thin Obama motorcade Stockholm – Hungary HGV toll ‘illegal’.

roundup – Vukovar dispute cancels charity football match – Moraes mway doubt re bones find – 150mph slap on wrist Croatia.

Channel delays: Eurotunnel UK terminal 90mins delay, France 30mins. Earlier tech fault.

P&O Dover-Calais: ‘The Calais/Dover 20h35 and the Dover/Calais 22h05 are delayed by approx. 30 minutes. Please check in as normal.’

Weather alerts: no Red or Amber alerts currently.

Weather: a nice day across much of west and south Europe.

Traffic: see @DE_Traffic from 09:00BST.

See Travel/Traffic/Weather for more.



Angela Merkel - the current and likely next German Chancellor - has firmly ruled out the possibilitiy of foreign motorists being charged specifically to use Bavaria's roads.

Angela Merkel has ruled out the possibilitiy of foreign motorists being charged to use German roads. Photo via CSU.de.

In an otherwise dull TV debate on Sunday evening between the front runners in this month’s general election, Angela Merkel – the current and likely next Chancellor – has firmly ruled out the possibility of foreign motorists being charged to use German roads.

‘With me,’ she said, ‘there will be no car tax,’ according to Der Spiegel.

However, Merkel’s CDU sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, led by the incumbent minister president Horst Seehofer, has had the foreigner car tax as a fundamental part of its manifesto since 2011.

Seehofer, who stands for re-election the week before Merkel and is just as likely to win, has said he won’t enter coalition with any party without agreement on the car tax. The idea is that German drivers would be issued with a sticker when they paid their car tax to allow them to use the roads. Any foreign driver would have to buy the sticker separately.

Seehofer moved quickly after the debate to smooth over any notion of an open split with Merkel telling journalists the two would work together. The idea looks dead, but this is politics.

The Bavarian state election is on 15 September. The General Election is on 22 September.

Meanwhile, the UK Department for Transport has appointed Northgate Public Services today to run its upcoming HGV user levy. From next April all HGVs will have to pay an additional charge to use any UK road ranging from £85-1,000 per year. UK hauliers will have the charge rebated through Vehicle Excise Duty.


Obama in Sweden. The streets and skies were cleared for President Obama's 25 mile motorcade from Arlanda airpoprt

Obama in Sweden. The streets and skies were cleared for President Obama’s 25 mile drive from Arlanda Airport to Stockholm’s Grand Hotel this morning. Expectations were enormously high after the motorcade for the President’s visit to London in 2011 – comprising outriders, police cars, ambulance, fire engine, secure vans, Secret Service SUVs, spare SUVs, two enormous Cadillac limousines, back up, the press, more police cars and then more outriders – took an incredible six minutes to pass. In the end however the rather thin column, with only two police bikes in the lead, took a paltry 55 seconds to speed past one video blogger waiting beside the E4. Bizzarely, in the circumstances, considering drivers had been warned not to drive in Stockholm this morning, the opposite carriageway was open to normal traffic. Photo via @blandatochgott.


Hungary – the new HGV electronic toll system is illegal and the tolls are too high says the European Commission. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas tweeted the news this afternoon (@SiimKallasEU). The Commission sent an official Opinion to that effect to the Hungarian authorities in August but it has only just come out in an article today by Nepszabadzag Online (Hungarian only). English language Politics.hu says the Hungarian National Development Ministry is studying the Opinion but considers it to be ‘an attack’. The www.hu-go.hu toll system has been beset with controversy all year. The winning bidder pulled out in mysterious circumstances in January putting the whole system in doubt. In need of the revenues, the government stepped in however and, against all predictions, had the system in place for its original 1 July start date. According to Politics.hu figures revenues are on target.


We're certainly flying the flag for the UK motoring industry on DriveEurope this week what with various Jaguars, Range Rovers and, not least, McLarens (this being the company's fiftieth anniversary week). We might be overdoing it but cannot resist this pic of a Union Jack liveried 12C driving past Big Ben with a Routemaster in the background. BTW @McLarenGroup want you to tweet them if you see this car out and about.

McLaren are flying the flag for the UK motoring industry this week what with it being the company’s fiftieth anniversary. BTW @McLarenGroup want you to tweet them if you see this car out and about, not sure if there’s a prize but you might get a mention.


roundup: Gibraltar. A quiet day at the frontier with no significant queues. Serbia. A charity football match between Croatia and Serbia, featuring veteran stars from the two country’s former national teams, has been cancelled due to the protests in Vukovar over new bilingual signs in the previously war ravaged city (see DriveEurope passim). Croatia. A Slovak driver made headlines after being caught driving at 246kph (152mph) on the A1 Zagreb-Split motorway yesterday, almost twice the 130kph national speed limit. The man paid an unspecified fine and is banned from driving in Croatia for the next 12 months. Greece. Archaeological excavations – the regular bugbear of road building in Greece – is threatening completion of the Corinth-Sparta ‘Moreas’ motorway. Most of the road, the A7, is open but the 47km, A71 Sparta spur from mid-way between Tripoli and Kalamata is outstanding. The project however is – so far – still on schedule for the end of 2014.


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