Germany's Open Speed Limits To Continue But for How Long?

Date posted: 02-05-2007
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BERLIN German car enthusiasts breathed a sigh of relief over the weekend as German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed measures to retain open speed limits on the country's autobahns. She is holding fast against criticism from the European Union suggesting Germany is lagging behind in efforts to reduce ozone-depleting emissions.

In a swipe at Germany's long-held policy of allowing some sections of its autobahn to go unrestricted, the European Union's environmental commissioner, Stavros Dimas, called on Germany over the weekend to take a leading role in the fight against global warming, saying the country isn't doing enough to reduce emissions in light of UN findings on climate change published last week.

Merkel riposted: "Germany already complies with up to 75 percent of the emission standards set by the European Union to come into effect between 2008 and 2012." In the question over whether Germany should fall into line with its neighbors and place a blanket speed limit on its autobahns, she added, "The measures we have in place on the autobahns already contribute to lowering emission levels."

Her comments appear to line up with German carmakers' claims that the open speed limit is crucial to helping them retain a high engineering standard. "If we no longer had to engineer our cars to satisfy their potential top speed, there would suddenly be a fundamental change in the way we go about our business," a high-ranking BMW insider told Inside Line.

What this means to you: If you have a need for speed, hurry to Germany before the EU forces the fatherland to call it quits on the autobahn fun.