Green light for revision of Eurovignette directive
Publication date: 15 November 2005
The Transport Committee took an important step yesterday towards the introduction of a harmonised European system for the calculation of tolls and road charging for heavy good vehicles. This is one of the priorities of European transport policy for the near future.
MEPs adopted the second-reading recommendation by Corien WORTMANN-KOOL (EPP-ED, NL) on the revision of the Eurovignette directive by 24 votes to 4, with 18 abstentions.
The directive aims to harmonise transport tariffs in all Member States in order to strengthen the Internal Market and establish a fair system of charging for the use of infrastructure based on the "user pays" and the "polluter pays" principles. It seeks to introduce standard methods for calculating the costs of transport modes. And it aims to promote the use of transportation with the least environmental impact and stimulate new investment in transport infrastructure. MEPs argued that an agreement was urgently needed as a growing number of Member States were considering introducing tolls and/or road charging.
The committee voted for a number of compromise amendments addressing the most controversial issues of this directive, such as the definition of external costs, the geographical scope of the directive, the types of lorries concerned, toll variations and the concepts of "earmarking of revenue" and an "urban mark-up".
"External costs" are those clearly caused by the road freight system but not calculated in the market price of their services. These can include chargeable congestion costs, environmental costs, noise, landscape damage and social costs such as health and indirect accident costs which are not covered by insurance.
The Transport Committee called on the Commission to present no later than two years after the entry into force of this directive a generally applicable and comprehensible model for the assessment of all external environment- congestion- and health-related costs to serve as the basis for future calculations of infrastructure charges. This model shall be accompanied by an impact analysis of the internalisation of external costs for all modes of transport. After that, the Commission can come up with a new proposal. The committee also decided that if a revision of the directive is not adopted within three years after the presentation of the model, Member States may add no more than 60% of the infrastructure costs to reflect a minimum of extra costs.
Lorries over 3.5 tonnes to be covered by the directive
Although the Council of Transport Ministers had proposed that tolls and/or user charges be applicable only to vehicles with a permissible laden weigh of 12 tonnes or more, the Committee took the view that lorries of 3,5 tonnes or more should be covered by the Directive by 2010 at the latest.
Earmarking of toll revenue
Two compromise amendments were adopted on the earmarking of revenue: where Member States levy tolls or user charges for use of roads in the trans-European networks (TENs) this revenue should be used for the maintenance of the infrastructure concerned and the transport sector as a whole.
Tolls and user charges are supposed to be applied to the whole of the trans-European road network. But the committee voted for Member States to be allowed to exempt from tolls or user charges any part of the network where there is a need to encourage and maintain the economic integration of isolated or economically weak regions or where there is a need to avoid perverse incentives for diverting traffic.
Over and above the provisions of the directive, the relevant authorities may impose urban traffic charges and regulatory charges on any road, notably in areas including TENs roads which cross an urban area. By just one one vote the committee voted in favour of mark-ups of a maximum 25% in urban areas, to be known as "urban mark-ups".
Adoption in EP Plenary in December 2005 in Strasbourg
Related News Items:
- Eurovignette: Commission Communication on Common Position (7 September 2005)
- Council publishes Common Position on Eurovignette (6 September 2005)
- Another Deadlock on Eurovignette Proposal (7 October 2004)
- Transport Council: No Agreement on Eurovignette (11 June 2004)
- Eurovignette: Parliament clashes with Commission (20 April 2004)
- MEPs back greener Road Tolls (17 March 2004)
- Transport Council: No Agreement on Road Charging Directive (9 March 2004)
- Draft Road Charging Directive published (23 July 2003)