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EU Transport Ministers increase road freight transport taxes without removing externalities!


15 Oct 2010



EU Transport Ministers reached a political agreement on the Eurovignette, paving the way for extra taxes to allegedly internalise external costs in road freight transport yet with no guarantee that externalities will be effectively reduced.

Brussels – EU Transport Ministers came to a political agreement today on the proposal to modify the Eurovignette Directive, introducing the internalisation of external costs for road freight transport through additional charges for local pollution and noise. However, the European Commission’s proposal to mandatorily earmark charging revenues, which was also supported by the European Parliament, does not feature in the Ministerial agreement.

President of the IRU Goods Transport Liaison Committee to the EU, Alexander Sakkers, commented, “It is unacceptable that EU Transport Ministers increase the fiscal burden on road freight transport without tabling any solution to reduce externalities as a compensation for removing the mandatory earmarking. Ministers have also failed to tackle the congestion problem at source, since they foresee charges for road freight transport only although it represents a mere 10% of all road users! The Council has completely ignored all the taxes, charges and duties already paid by the road freight industry, as well as the enormous additional burden that these new charges will impose on the economies of individual Member States. In fact, externalities will not be reduced, but the competitiveness of the European economy will. The Ministers’ decision is bad for the economy, and bad for the environment.”

The road freight transport industry has always been willing to pay its way, provided that the principles of non-discrimination and a fiscal level playing field for all modes of transport are observed. The current tax level of the different transport modes and the extent to which these taxes, charges and duties actually cover externalities, must be examined. Only once this assessment is made can decisions be taken on how much extra, if anything, should be paid and by whom.

Double charging, as represented by this decision, is unacceptable. Moreover, when revenues from charging are not earmarked for reinvestment into the mode they are drawn from, then its externalities cannot be efficiently reduced. Singling out one mode of transport will not green the entire EU transport system.

“The road freight transport sector now counts on the European Parliament to make sure that the principle of non-discrimination is respected and ensure effective legislation by reintroducing the mandatory earmarking in the proposal”, Alexander Sakkers concluded.

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Read the Progtrans summary report on the economic impact of the internalisation of external costs on individual EU Member States’ economies or download the full study.

Press contact: Juliette Ebélé, +41 22 918 27 07,