Those are among the conclusions of a revised ‘technical note’ by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) following the breakdown of negotiations on the Eurovignette revision last year. Current EU rules on charging lorries for using road infrastructure prohibit governments or authorities from charging for ‘externalities’, despite EU transport policy being committed to internalising such costs.
The breakdown in negotiations came amid concerns that expanding the Eurovignette would make road transport more expensive and thus disadvantage peripheral regions. The JRC note says ‘the overall benefits of charging for external costs outweigh the limited negative price impacts on individual transport operators’.
It says the net benefits of expanding the scope for charging will be around €2.3 billion a year, plus additional benefits resulting from reduced congestion. And it shows that nations at the periphery of Europe will benefit as the shift of international traffic to less congested areas will compensate for increases in the costs of trade, as well as benefiting from more efficient, sustainable and safe transport systems.
• Although the JRC note ought to increase the chances of getting agreement on an expanded Eurovignette, it comes at a time when Spain holds the EU presidency, and Spain has been strongly opposed to increasing road user charges.