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Rail sector welcomes agreement on Eurovignette but stronger result still needed


15 Oct 2010



The European rail industry welcomes the agreement reached today by European transport ministers to permit the charging of some of the internalisation of external costs through the revision of the ‘Eurovignette’ directive on the charging of heavy good vehicles. The revision of the Eurovignette Directive is a further step towards levelling the playing field for all modes of transport.

The agreement means the issue can now move forward after having been blocked in the European Council for the past 18 months. The rail sector is grateful to the Belgian Presidency for the commitment it has shown in seeking to reach a political agreement amongst the EU member states.


The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) and the European Rail Industry (UNIFE) welcomed the acceptance by the Council of the ‘polluter pays’ principle in road transport.


However, while the agreement is a step in the right direction, it is not as strong as it could have been, and some of the major points in the original European Commission’s proposal and the first reading in the European Parliament have not been adopted.


In particular, the rail sector regrets:

    * The decision to remove separate charges for congestion, which is responsible for 40% of all external costs
    * The failure to agree that the earmarking of revenues raised should be allocated specifically for spending on sustainable transport
    * The decision to let member states decide on whether they wish to apply charges to vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes in weight.


The rail sector now looks forward to ensuring that these points are properly considered by the European Parliament in its second reading, and looks forward to rapid final agreement on the directive.


CER Executive Director Johannes Ludewig said, “It is appropriate that this agreement was reached the day that the final breakthrough occurred in the new Gotthard Tunnel under the Alps. This rail tunnel is funded using the proceeds of the Swiss Heavy Vehicle Fee – clearly demonstrating the benefits that can be achieved through the proper charging for the external effects of road freight. The Swiss people chose to introduce such a system over a decade ago, and they have had no cause to regret it. The EU governments need to show similar vision and political bravery.”


Hendrik Abma, EIM’s Executive Director, said: “The revision of the Directive is a major milestone to achieving a level playing field for all modes and make transport more sustainable. We have long been calling for a fair financial environment for all modes of transport to make rail able to compete and develop. This is a step in the right direction but there is still way to go to create a fully non-discriminatory regulatory framework.”


Michael Clausecker, UNIFE Director-General, said: “The revision of the Eurovignette directive comes at crucial moment. The Transport White Paper, expected to be released at the end of the year, should support the measures as described in the Eurovignette directive and go even further if the EU is serious about meeting the sustainability challenges as set in the EU 2020 strategy. Notably, a single binding target for CO2 emissions’ reduction in the transport sector is needed to fight climate change.”




Note to the editor:

The revision of the Eurovignette Directive was proposed by the European Commission in July 2008 as part of its “Greening Transport” package. The European Parliament adopted it in March 2009 but no agreement was reached when it was discussed in Council the same month, and the issue has remained blocked since then. The agreement serves as an important milestone in the drive to internalise the external costs of transport as the package finally opens up the possibility for Member States to put the “polluter pays” principle into practice in the road freight transport sector and helps to create a more level playing field between transport modes. A broad coalition of representatives of the transport sector, including railways, intermodal transport, logistic and forwarders, have long argued that EU Member States should be able to apply internalisation for road freight transport – as they can already do for the other modes of transport and for private cars. This will finally put an end to the strange situation in which the most polluting transport mode – road– is the only one to benefit from a privileged legal situation: a ban on taking external costs into account when setting road charges for heavy goods vehicles. The rail sector’s position paper on the revision of the Eurovignette Directive is available at:


Trafikverket does not support this statement.

For further information, please contact:

Eva Böckle

Press and Communications Manager

phone +32 2 213 08 90

mobile +32 473 32 20 94


Johana Grohova

EIM Public Affairs Manager

phone +32 2 234 37 70

mobile +32 476 66 19 09



Max Obenaus

UNIFE Head of Communications

phone +32 2 642 23 28

mobile +32 485 753 665




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