Transport & Environment (T&E) strongly criticises the announcement today by the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment Melanie Schultz Van Haegen to allow trucks up to 25 meters long and 60 tonnes in weight to operate across the Dutch road network (1). EU law currently restricts the length of lorries to a maximum of 18.75m and 40-44 tonnes.
This briefing aims to provide a short overview of the history and present status of EU energy tax policy, and summarises the Commission's proposal for a revised Energy Tax Directive (ETD), launched in April 2011.
The Commission has proposed ending the right of member states to exempt lorries from paying for infrastructure costs. The suggestion, which came as part of the white paper on transport planning for 2050, could impact on negotiations on the Eurovignette, as it would effectively make the Eurovignette directive obligatory.
The European Parliament's Transport committee reached an agreement on revised road charging rules for lorries (the Eurovignette directive) that
would open the door for Member States to charge for air and noise pollution in road tolls.
The British government is the latest EU member state to announce it is introducing a charge on lorries, but it will be a time-based ‘vignette’ system rather than a distance-based charge. A senior official from the European Commission described it as ‘old-fashioned and out of date’.
Opinion by Jos Dings - T&E Director
Did we miss something? Last year, the European Commission didn’t propose a single new legislative measure to clean up transport. To be fair, it has been spending most of its time worrying about the future of the Eurozone. As a result, for T&E this was the sort of year where seeds for smarter transport policy were sown. We’re optimistic that next year could bring a decent crop of positive changes.
Poland is set to join the club of EU member states that have introduced a distance-based charge for lorries. An electronic charge applicable to all vehicles above 3.5 tonnes (including buses) using national roads is due to come into effect on 1 July 2011, but the price per kilometre has not yet been agreed.
The EU’s ban on member states charging road hauliers for the unpaid costs of lorry journeys looks set to be partially lifted, after a compromise deal was agreed among member states that could lead to a new Eurovignette directive next year. But the cost of the Belgian presidency getting agreement appears to be the retention of important restrictions on how states can charge for the costs of congestion, plus an air pollution loophole for newer lorries that T&E has described as ‘bizarre’.
A political battle has broken out in Germany over whether trials planned for next year with oversized lorries – so-called ‘mega-trucks’ – should be allowed to take place.