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Drastic EC Action Needed Against Slovenian Vignettes

Date

19 Jun 2009

Sections

Transport

The FIA Eurocouncil deplores Slovenia’s latest decree fixing a new road toll vignette system for its highway system of just 487km. Werner Kraus, President of the Austrian automobile club OAMTC and chairman of the Eurocouncil, said “The amended vignette system is utterly unfair, overpriced and a cynical response to the European Commission’s request to stop discriminating against European tourists visiting or in transit through Slovenia. Despite appearing to comply with EC pressure to introduce a short duration vignette in time for the peak holiday season, the Slovenian Government wants to ensure that most visitors to Slovenia or in transit will pay the same for their trips as before. Moreover, Slovenians will now pay more.”

The Slovenian Government’s proposed amendments to the road toll vignette system concede to pressure for a short duration vignette but ensure that most road users will actually pay the same or even more than before. From 1st July 2009, the seven-day vignette, valid for seven days including the day of purchase, costs 15 EUR. This means that most visitors travelling for a week (Saturday to Saturday – eight days) will actually be obliged to by two vignettes at a cost of € 30 (just five EUR less than the former six month vignette abolished as of 1st July 2009). The new monthly vignette will cost € 30 and the yearly vignette will cost € 95 EUR (€ 40 EUR more than before). In short, both Slovenians and European visitors will pay more. These amendments are expected to have detrimental impacts not only on costs for domestic and European consumers but also on road safety and tourism in Slovenia and in neighbouring countries such as Croatia.

In a recent internet survey conducted by the FIA clubs in countries neighbouring Slovenia plus Germany, 60 per cent of the 13,000 respondents claimed only to use Slovenian highways for transit, thus only for two days of usage. Over 20 per cent stated that henceforth, they would not travel in Slovenia anymore and 40 per cent said they would look for alternative routes avoiding the highways.

In letters sent to Patrick Vlačič, Slovenia Minister for Transport urging him to review the new pricing scheme, both Werner Kraus and Peter Meyer, President of the German club, ADAC underlined the extent to which European citizens feel that “the vignette is unreasonably expensive, and counterproductive for tourism in Slovenia”.

These measures will increase environmental costs of motoring and potential risks for European motorists who choose to use alternative secondary roads instead of the new highways due to cost. According to Boris Perko, former President of the Slovenian Automobile Club, AMZS and Trustee of FIA Foundation, Slovenians will also have to bear significant social costs. “The previous system - composed of five different toll stops - was very expensive and kept people on the local roads,” he said. “Thanks to the low price of the yearly vignette, Slovenians started to move from the local roads - where 80 % of the accidents happened - to the highways.
Traffic gained in fluidity and safety in the process. I am now concerned that the change foreseen will lead to a resurgence in the number of deaths on the Slovenian roads.”
According to European Commission statistics, 2008 saw a dramatic decrease (28%) in road fatalities compared to the previous year in Slovenia.

Since 2008, FIA has had a constant dialogue with the EU, particularly the European Commission’s Transport Commissioner and Vice-President, Antonio Tajani. The European Commission’s supportive efforts to find a consumer-friendly and non-discriminatory solution this question in the past months have been appreciated. However any acceptance of Slovenia’s flawed solution by the European Commission could trigger a spate in increases in the prices of vignettes across other member States, to the even greater detriment of European citizens.

According to Werner Kraus, “Until Slovenia comes forward with a solution that is truly non-discriminatory, with a consumer friendly price system, FIA clubs in Europe strongly urge the Commission continue applying pressure by whatever means.” In his view, “All EU credits for road building should be blocked and all efforts made to bring the case before the European Court of Justice to get a satisfactory solution.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the world’s leading motoring organisation, represents via its affiliated members, national motoring and touring organisations over 100 million motorists worldwide and 34 million motorists in the European Union. Europe’s motoring and touring organisations have as their highest priority to make mobility more sustainable, i.e. more reliable, cleaner and safer while keeping it affordable for all.

Since its introduction last July (2008), the Slovenian road toll vignette system has been heavily criticised by FIA clubs in Europe, especially those in neighbouring Member States and the European Commission, for being discriminatory due to the absence of a short stay vignette for visitors or those in transit through Slovenia. Road users had a limited choice of a six-month vignette costing €35 EUR or a yearly vignette costing €55 EUR for passenger cars. Motorcycles faced charges €17.50 or 27.50 for six months and one year respectively, whereas in other countries, their nominal road usage is not charged at all (e.g. Czech Republic). The system adopted yesterday foresees the following prices:

Weekly Monthly 6 Months
Yearly
Personal vehicles 15 EUR 30 EUR unavailable 95 EUR
Motorcycles 7,5 EUR unavailable 25 EUR 47,5 EU

Slovenia’s road toll vignette system, covering just 487 km of highway will be the most costly in Europe. FIA clubs consider these exorbitant prices discriminatory against all European citizens. In fairness, to Europeans everywhere, whose taxes in the form of EU funds have already contributed in recent years to the upgrading of Slovenia’s highways, these prices need a significant downward revision to make them comparable with other EU member states’ road toll charges. Austria, for example, charges just €7.70 EUR for 10 days, €22.20 EUR for two months and €73.80 EUR for a year.

During March – April 2009, FIA clubs conducted an internet survey find out their members’ views about the current system in Slovenian.13,000 responses were collected. Participating in this survey together with the FIA European Bureau were ACI, Italy; ADAC, Germany; HAK, Croatia; MAK, Hungary ; ÖAMTC, Austria; SATC, Slovakia; UAMK, Czech Republic.

For more information contact Sinziana Gille, Communication Manager at +32 2 282 0816 or s.gille(at)fiabrussels.com

http://www.fia.com/en-GB/Pages/HomePage.aspx

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