• Road charging plans due in July

    Reports of the draft Commission proposals on smart road charging, which are expected to be published in early July, say legislation will allow for pollution and congestion costs to be internalised, but this will not be obligatory for member states.

    The battle to charge road users the full costs of road transport has been going on for nearly two decades, and next month’s proposals – a revision of the Eurovignette directive – are likely to mark the biggest single step towards internalising the external costs of road transport; hence the interest in what the revision will include.

    Reports from European news agencies say the legislation will give national road authorities a series of options and formulas for calculating the unpaid costs of road transport. The legislation applies only to vehicles of 3.5 tonnes or more, although countries can introduce charging for cars if they want.

    One report says toll prices on roads could be raised to include medical care for health problems relating to air and noise pollution, but not the costs related to traffic accidents. Productivity losses due to road transport problems can also be charged-for, as can the costs caused by sleep disturbance, time lost in traffic jams, increased fuel consumption and road maintenance.

    The draft text is expected to require member states to ‘earmark’ revenue from such charges to finance ‘projects and measures aimed at reducing the external costs of transport, notably traffic management systems, measures to reduce pollution at source, and the development of alternative infrastructure.’