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04 Jul 2022, 13:39
Benjamin Wehrmann

Scholz rejects motorway speed limit, fears “social dynamite” in energy costs

ARD

The German government will not introduce a general speed limit on motorways to reduce the transport sector’s energy consumption amid the crisis fuelled by Russia’s war on Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. In an interview with public broadcaster ARD, the Social Democrat (SPD) said: “This government didn’t agree on it. And that’s why it won’t be introduced.“ Calls for a general speed limit have grown following Russia’s attack in February, as plans for an embargo on a wide range of fossil fuel imports from the country started to take shape. Chancellor Scholz now sought to put an end to the debate by stating that “there will be no general speed limit”. 

Scholz added that the current price hike on energy markets amounts to “social dynamite”, as many people were struggling to cover the quickly rising costs for all kinds of energy consumption, which also drives up prices for other goods, notably for food and heating. “If the heating bill rises by a few hundred euros, this means a lot of people won’t really be able to pay this sum,” Scholz said, adding that this is causing him great worries. He argued the government for now would assess whether measures to reduce cost pressure on citizens are successful and is ready to provide more assistance if needed. “The next year will become the biggest challenge,” he said.

Proponents of a speed limit, especially from the SPD's government coalition partner Green Party, said the measure would not only save energy but also reduce vehicle emissions and increase road safety without causing any substantial costs. But senior government members, notably from the third coalition partner Free Democrats (FDP), such as finance minister Christian Lindner or transport minister Volker Wissing, repeatedly rejected the idea. Germany is the only country in Europe that has no speed limit on large parts of its motorway network.

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