France is the latest country to agree on the introduction of a nationwide road tolling system for lorries, which is scheduled to come into operation from 2011. There are however already concerns that implementation may be delayed until 2013. In France this is referred to as a ‘taxe kilométrique poids lourds’. It is important to note that, under the rules of the current EU ‘Eurovignette’ Directive (2006/38/EC), the tolls may only be based on recovery of infrastructure costs, and may not include recovery of external costs, such as those of pollution, accidents or congestion. The Eurovignette Directive is currently in the process of revision by the EU institutions.
The French scheme is a direct product of the national environment forum Grenelle de l’environnement in 2007, which outlined several transport policy measures, intended to support CO2 emissions reduction via demand management and modal shift for freight transport. The government has however rolled back some of the scope and charge level originally discussed, under pressure from the road lobby. Discussion of reduced toll rates for some peripheral regions has yet to be finalised.
This briefing outlines how the planned French system will compare to the national lorry tolling schemes already in operation in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.