Commissioner Barnier statement on funding road infrastructure
Publication date: 10 July 2014
In March, FIA Region I reached out to the European Commissioner responsible for the internal market and services, Michel Barnier, with a letter highlighting the current trends affecting the funding of European Road infrastructure.
Just this week, Commissioner Barnier replied to the letter and stated that the recently updated Public Procurement package would ensure that road users receive the best value for money and quality. In addition, he stated that any extension of concessions or price increases must necessarily comply with Public Procurement rules.
He also announced that the Commission is tabling a new proposal on road charging, to be presented after the summer. Worryingly, he underlines that “Member States are allowed to set tariffs for passenger cars independent of infrastructure costs” but reaffirms that any rule must comply with the principle of non-discrimination. See below for a exerpt from his letter.
First, I would like to mention the recently adopted Public Procurement package, which I believe is highly relevant in this context.
One of the principal objectives of the package - especially of the Directive on the Award of Concession contracts - is to develop a legal framework which enables the construction, maintenance and operation of the European infrastructures at conditions guaranteeing the best value for money and quality for the users.
In particular, any modifications (including extensions and price increases) to existing concessions and contracts for road maintenance and management will have to comply with the applicable Public Procurement rules.
The Commission is also concerned about the infrastructure maintenance gap in several Member States, which is why the Commission has persistently advocated earmarking of revenues from road charging schemes. This particular issue is likely to be addressed in a new proposal on road charging, which is planned to be tabled by the Commission after the summer.
As regards charging road users, please note that EU-legislation only applies to heavy goods vehicles. Member States are therefore allowed to set tariffs for passenger cars independent of infrastructure costs. Discrimination based on nationality, however, is not permitted for any type of road users according to Article 18 of TFEU.
In the absence of harmonization in the field of vehicle taxation. Member States remain free to lay down national rules for passenger cars in this field. However, those rules must comply with the general principles of EU law and, in particular, respect the non-discrimination principle.