The European Parliament is to vote on rules to allow member states to charge heavy lorries for air and noise pollution.
The revision to the current “Eurovignette Directive” will are designed to give member states better tools to manage problems of congestion, with a new flexibility to vary the charge for heavy lorries (by up to 175 per cent) at different times of the day.
In addition, the new rules will also offer incentives to member states to set aside money raised for investment in sustainable transport infrastructure (TEN-T) projects.
Speaking before the vote on Tuesday 7th June, Transport commissioner Siim Kallas said: “This is a very important step in the right direction- towards creating a fair financial environment where prices across different transport modes reflect the real costs to society and the taxpayer.”
The current Eurovignette Directive allows member states to set tolls at levels required to maintain and replace infrastructure. It prohibits the recovery of other costs, e.g. the so-called external costs such as air pollution and noise costs.
The new directive will allow member states to calculate tolls based not only on infrastructure costs but also the cost of traffic-based air pollution and noise. The external cost charge would represent 3-4 ct/km depending on the Euro class of the vehicle, the location of the roads and the level of congestion.
It will also allow higher tariffs to be applied during peak periods provided that lower tariffs are applied during off-peak periods. The compromise ensures revenue neutrality and allows in congested areas higher tariffs of up to 175 per cent above the average tariff.
About 30,000 km of motorways are current tolled in Europe. About half of these are in the TEN-T network and therefore fall under the scope of the Eurovignette Directive. The revised directive will extend this to all 30,000 km.
Existing toll rates vary typically between 15 and 25 cents per kilometre. The new Directive will authorise an increase of toll rates of 20-30 per cent.