The European Parliament’s transport committee has postponed a vote that had been scheduled for today on design rules of lorries. The proposed design changes would make lorry cabs slightly longer, enabling a rounded, aerodynamic nose as well as great improvements to driver’s visibility and lorry crash performance. These changes have been delayed due to disagreements over whether to allow so-called ‘megalorries’  to cross national borders. The committee vote has been postponed until 18 March.
The European Commission is taking legal action against the UK over claims it is exceeding limits on air pollution from traffic. Britain has two months to respond to the case that it breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, which cause breathing and other health problems.
MEP and Rapporteur, Jörg Leichtfried, today proposed changes to an EU lorry law that would ensure that all lorries, including city trucks, become safer, saving the lives of hundreds of cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers in Europe’s cities. Members of the European Parliament’s transport committee debated Leichtfried’s plans to fix the Commission's incomplete proposal that would make EU lorries safer, cleaner and cheaper to run.
The European Commission says it wants to reduce air pollution from barges as a way of making freight transport by inland waterways more environmentally friendly.
The French government has delayed by three months the introduction of its distance-based eco-tax on lorries. The tax was to have come into effect on 1 October, but has been put back to the start of 2014. The French transport minister blamed technical difficulties, but one of T&E’s French members – France Nature Environnement – said this is just the latest in a series of delaying tactics by hauliers and shippers who want the tax either delayed indefinitely or severely watered down. The eco-tax, which will apply to lorries over 3.5 tonnes using about 15,000km of main roads that are not part of the tolled Péage network, is expected to earn the French government €1.2 billion a year – which means the three-month delay will cost it around €300 million.
The transport protocol of the Alpine Convention has entered into force in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and Slovenia, having been ratified by the EU over the summer. The Alpine Convention is an international treaty signed by the eight Alpine countries and the EU, aimed at protecting the Alps. Its transport protocol was agreed in 2000, and has a clause that states: ‘The contracting parties shall refrain from constructing any new large-capacity roads for transalpine transport.’ However, Italy held out against ratification until it was persuaded to sign a year ago, and Switzerland has refused to sign the transport protocol, leaving its legal standing in some doubt.
The growing problem of railway noise has caused the Commission to consult on what action can be taken to tackle it.
Switzerland is reassessing its view of trans-Alpine transport, a process that could have repercussions for the whole of Europe. A recent consultation process will lead to a proposal, expected next month, to revise the Swiss Road Transit Traffic Act to allow a second trans-Alpine road tunnel, a move that has alarmed environmental campaigners.
New rules allow for smarter design to improve safety and cut emissions Cross-border use of ‘megatrucks’ allowed between consenting countries
Proposed changes to EU law, announced today, will make European lorries safer, cleaner and more fuel efficient. Transport & Environment and the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (FEVR) welcome the European Commission’s proposal on the weights and dimensions of lorries as a vital turning point for road safety and a small but welcome step towards cutting emissions from road transport.