• Legal action against Spain and France on road charges

    The Commission is threatening to take legal action against Spain and France over unfair discounts from road user charges.

    Spain and France both charge for use of their motorways, but Spain offers a 50% discount for frequent users, and France a 30% discount. Under the Eurovignette directive, discounts can only be given for frequent road users if the frequency of use results in savings to the cost of administering the road, and even then only up to 13% of the charge.

    The Commission has sent a “reasoned opinion” – the first stage of legal action – to Madrid and Paris, saying there is no evidence that the 50% and 30% discounts are consistent with any administrative cost savings.

    T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: “Our concern with the Eurovignette directive is that it doesn’t allow member states to charge for all the externalities involved in road use, such as pollution from vehicles. There is therefore absolutely no justification for discounts for frequent users, especially as more journeys do not lead to a reduction in pollution per kilometre driven.”


    A study from Great Britain suggests motorists are becoming increasingly willing to accept road charging, as long as it is part of a deal that helps overall mobility.

    The survey of more than 1000 motorists by the motoring club RAC found that two thirds of motorists are so irritated by traffic congestion that they would accept strict measures to reduce it, as long as there were better public transport and a reduction in other motoring taxes to make the cost of motoring fiscally neutral.

    The survey also found a willingness to accept satellite-based charging systems, as long as they were accompanied by improved anti-theft measures, such as tracking of stolen cars.

    This news story is taken from the July 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.