Commenting on today's development, Jos Dings, Director of T&E said:
"Making road users pay for the negative impacts of their operations is critical to a sustainable transport policy in Europe. The EU has certainly taken its time. Seven years after Switzerland started charging road freight operators for the environmental and health impacts of their journeys, EU transport policy is finally catching up."
"Unfortunately this proposal seems to take EU transport policy two steps forward and one step back. Member States will no longer be banned from charging trucks for the negative environmental and health impacts of their journeys. But the charges will be capped to such a degree that the areas that suffer the worst environmental impacts will be unable to set charges which reflect the real costs. In particular the decision to set a cap on charges makes no sense economically, or environmentally and should be scrapped."
Mr. Dings concluded "The Parliament and Council have their work cut out to make sure today’s proposal will really make transport greener."
Notes to Editors:
- Switzerland is the only European country where road user charges that internalize external costs of transport are applied.
- The Swiss scheme involves a per km charge for all Heavy Duty Vehicles on all Swiss roads.
- The scheme started in 2001 and the main results of this experience after 7 years are the following:
* Increased efficiency in the road transport sector: between 2001 and 2005 the number of kilometres travelled by heavy goods traffic (kilometre performance) decreased by 6.4%, whereas the goods transported (transport performance) increased by 16.4%.
* Positive effects on environment: reduction of emissions of air pollutants of 10% (particle emissions) and 14% (nitrogen oxides); CO2 emissions decreased by 6%.
* No negative effects on the labour market: the number of people employed in road transport remained stable.
* Negligible effect on consumer prices: according to Swiss government figures, the overall attributable price increase following the introduction of the scheme has been only 0.1%.
* Effects on competitiveness: Switzerland climbed the global competitiveness rankings to be ranked as the most competitive economy in the world in 2006-2007, according to the World Economic Forum.
See also: T&E Background Briefing.