Germany’s Greens propose speed limit on Autobahn if elected

The Green party want to enforce a general speed limit on Germany's renowned Autobahn if they get into government after the planned 2021 elections.

Germany's Greens propose speed limit on Autobahn if elected
Greens are pushing for a 130km speed limit on the Autobahn. Photo: DPA

It is one of Germany's most controversial questions: should a general speed limit be put in place on the Autobahn network which is famous for having zones with no speed limit restrictions?

Now the Green party has vowed to introduce curbs on speeding as a “first measure” if they get into government after the 2021 elections.

When Green co-party leader Robert Habeck was asked by news portal “The Pioneer” whether the Greens would introduce this a general speed limit he replied: “Yes. at 130”, reported Spiegel on Tuesday.

This initiative would be a dealbreaker for the Greens in a coalition agreement. “This is probably the first measure of a new government, if the Greens are involved,” Habeck said.

READ ALSO: How our readers feel about imposing a speed limit on Germany's Autobahn

He said all that was needed was a change in the law to move to a maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour.

Habeck said the mood of the country regarding driving had changed in recent years.

There are now more people who want the speed limit, Habeck said. “Even the ADAC (Germany's biggest motoring association) is for it. Who is actually still arguing against it?” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has also changed people's view on the issue, he argued. “The accusation that a speed limit is an undue restriction of civil liberty on the Autobahn now somehow sounds even more ridiculous than it already does – now that churches, schools and so on have been closed down,” he said.

Habeck slammed the fact that in Schleswig-Holstein, among other places, there are stretches of road which speeders go to, “in order to drive 250 km/h for 40 kilometers”.

“That's not justifiable,” he said. Everyone should have their hobby, “but not endanger others in order to have fun”.

Why is it controversial?

Germany is a country known for its love of cars and driving – and that passion, many say, is reflected in its freedom to drive fast on parts of its highway.

For lots of people outside Germany, the speed limit-free motorways are a strong part of the country's auto culture and history.

In a survey by The Local, just over 70 percent of readers rejected the idea of imposing a general speed limit on the Autobahn.

However there are growing calls for the move. A speed limit of 130 km/h could save around 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 per year, according to a a study presented by the Federal Environment Agency in February.

Do the Greens have a shot at governing Germany?

Perhaps. In the last two years the Greens have been enjoying a surge in German politics.

But during the coronavirus crisis Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have gone up significantly in opinion polls, with one survey showing the Union (CDU/CSU) would get 40 percent of the vote if an election was held.

READ ALSO: 'Surfing the Zeitgeist': How the Greens won over Germany

That poll suggested the Greens are the second most popular party in Germany with 19 percent of the vote, ahead of the Social Democrats with 15 percent.

It remains to be seen how the pandemic will affect the behaviour of voters when the country goes to the polls next year.

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EXPLAINED: How to register your car in Germany from September 1st

Vehicle registration is about to get a lot easier in Germany, as the process moves online from September 1st. But how will it work?

EXPLAINED: How to register your car in Germany from September 1st

What’s happening?

In an era of digital transformation, Germany is taking a significant step towards streamlining its vehicle registration process.

From September 1st, the new i-Kfz project, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV), will introduce an internet-based vehicle registration system that will allow people to register, de-register, and re-register their vehicles online.

When do I need to register my vehicle?

Anyone who owns a motor vehicle in Germany and intends to use it on public roads has to register it with the authorities in the area where they live. This applies to both residents and non-residents and also means that vehicles have to be re-registered when moving to a different region of Germany.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What to know about driving in low emissions zones in Germany

If you buy a car through a dealership, they will normally take care of vehicle registration for you. But if you bought the car privately or imported it, you will need to register it yourself.

Until now, that meant making an appointment at the local Kraftfahrzeug Zulassungsstelle (car registration office), but from September 1st, this can be done online.

What documents do I need to register my vehicle?

There are several documents that you need to register your vehicle, including:

– A valid ID (a German passport, foreign one or an ID card)

– Registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung)

– Proof of ownership (part II of the car’s registration certificate)

– Proof of car insurance (eVB number)

– Foreign registration certificate (for imported cars only)

– Proof of road worthiness following technical inspection (TÜV certificate)

– SEPA direct debit mandate for payment of vehicle tax

How do I register online?

The federal states and local administrations will be responsible for setting up the i-Kfz registration portals and these portals can be accessed through the website of your local registration authority (or by searching, for example “Berlin i-Kfz Anmeldung”).

To use the online service, you will need:

– An identity card (including residency permits) with an eID online function

– A card reader or a smartphone with a free ID app

– Vehicle documents with security code 

How long do I have to wait before I can drive my car?

One of the major changes introduced by the i-Kfz is that the vehicle registration is activated immediately. Once registered through the i-Kfz system, vehicles can hit the roads right away.

The registration notification, vehicle documents, and license plates will then be sent by mail, which usually two to three business days. You can be on the road without these documents for up to 10 days, as long as you keep the digital registration certificate as proof that the vehicle is registered.

READ ALSO: How to get a German driver’s licence as a third-country national

As with regular registration, you will need to take care of the license plates yourself. However, these can also be easily ordered online, via a website like the STVA.

What does online vehicle registration cost?

The fees for digital vehicle registration are slightly higher than those for in-person visits to the registration office.

The cost for digitally registering a vehicle for the first time is €27.90 (instead of €27). For transferring vehicle ownership, the fee is €28.20, while the de-registration of a car costs only €5.70.

There is also a charge of €10.20 for sending the Part II registration certificate by registered mail or as a certificate of postal delivery.