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EP REPORT ON EUROVIGNETTE : TOO STRICT OR NOT STRICT ENOUGH?

From "too strict" to "not binding enough": the report adopted by the European Parliament's Transport Committee on revision of the Eurovignette Directive is sparking a variety of reactions. Some welcome what is deplored by others. The amended directive is meant to allow countries to set up road charging systems to make trucks pay the costs of air pollution, noise and traffic congestion.

The rail sector welcomes the outcome of the vote but regrets that the revision does not go far enough. It faults the committee for deciding not to take account of the cost of climate change (CO2 emissions) and complicating the introduction of congestion charges. Whereas the European Commission simply gave states the possibility to take the cost of traffic congestion into account in road charges, MEPs linked this possibility to adoption of an action plan to enhance capacity on these roads and especially to the inclusion of cars in the system. So everyone will have to pay up, heavy goods vehicles and passenger cars alike. The rail sector argues that this makes the introduction of congestion charges increasingly difficult. It calls for a revision of these two aspects ahead of the vote in plenary, set for late March.

Eurochambres, the association of European chambers of commerce and industry, would also like to see the congestion aspect modified in plenary, but not in the same direction as the rail sector. It would prefer to see MEPs simply delete this clause of the proposal. The association maintains that the inclusion of congestion charges would have a negative impact on road transport entrepreneurs, among them many small and medium-sized enterprises. In contrast, Eurochambres applauds the decision not to include the CO2 cost.

Among the most critical reactions is that of T&E (Transport and Environment), an NGO which sees the EP's vote as a wasted opportunity to put in place real environmental charging for road transport. Instead of deleting the useless restrictions in the Commission's proposal, MEPs added a few more, it notes. It singles out the exclusion of CO2 and the extra conditions set for congestion charges. T&E adds that a recent study - which is disputed by the road sector - finds that trucks are responsible for 20% of congestion although they only represent 7% of total vehicle kilometres (3670). So it is logical to tackle congestion first through charges that only concern trucks, it concludes.

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Publication:Europe Energy
Date:Feb 25, 2009
Words:396
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