The European Commission is considering a change in the interpretation of its legislation on so-called megatrucks. Under the new interpretation, the cross-border circulation of megatrucks, which is currently prohibited, would be allowed. This decision would have a negative impact on road safety and infrastructure and would drastically impact on the competitive position of the rail freight sector, without any benefits for the environment.
A revision of the 1996 directive on lorry weight and dimensions could be done in a way that would improve the environmental and safety performance of lorries. A study carried out for T&E by the German automotive research institute FKA demonstrates that it is possible, with small regulatory and design changes to produce lorries that are significantly cleaner and safer. The full report and a summary are available for download here.
In April 2011, the European Commission proposed to update the EU's Energy Tax Directive which, among other things, sets the minimum levels of road fuel taxation in Europe. T&E advocates raising the minimum level of taxation so fuel tax havens such as Spain and Luxembourg can no longer profit from 'tanker tourism'; basing tax rates on the energy / carbon content of fuels (which implies higher taxes for diesel), and removing the EU ban on member states taxing fuel used in international aviation and shipping. Read our briefing here and read our press release on the outcome of the European Parliament's vote on the issue in April 2012.
The EU sets rules that member states must comply with if they choose to introduce road tolls for lorries. The third revision of the 'Eurovignette' directive was agreed in September 2011, after lengthy discussions in the EU institutions. The revised directive breaks new ground in the sense that it allows for certain external costs to be charged for (air and noise pollution, and congestion), but it does not allow member states to charge for the costs of climate changing emissions from lorries. Lorries can also be charged, for the first time, for such 'externalities' on all motorways, rather than just roads belonging to the trans-European transport network.