The German government is pushing to introduce its controversial lorry charging from August 31, for all trucks at or above 12 tonnes irrespective of nationality.

The toll applies whether the vehicle is laden or empty, and a typical daily charge for 400km on a motorway will be 60 euros (£40).

The International Road Transport Union is pressing Commissioner de Palacio to intervene and either suspend the implementation of the German charging scheme or suspend enforcement penalties.

Austria is planning similar motorway charging from January 2004. Vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes will be forced to pay a toll according to the number of axles. Vehicles with two axles - 0.13 euros per km; three axles - 0.18 euros per km; four or more axles - 0.27 euros per km.