On the 8th of November, Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, outlined her plans in regards to road toll rules during a small Conference.
In her speech, the Commissioner stated that she had been advocating to national governments to switch from the time-based vignette systems, to a distance-based tolls.
She stated that “charging and taxation in transport are an important tool”, due to several reasons:
· generating revenue to ensure financing of the infrastructure
· incentivise environmentally friendly and energy-efficient transportation
· taxes and charges can create a level-playing field across different modes
Commissioner Bulc explained that Europe's transport infrastructure is in dire need of investments. The European Commission calculated the needed sum of € 700 billion by 2030. Therefore, road charging schemes (user-based financing) are seen as revenues and should be earmarked for financing the relevant infrastructure. However, implementing 'user pays' principle in the EU is a complex problem, because Member States want to keep full control over how to use the revenues from road charging. Mrs Bulc ensured that the European Commission is now “looking at alternative ways to ensure the necessary financing for road maintenance and that users receive an adequate service in exchange of the charges/tolls they pay.”
On the topic of decarbonisation, Mrs Bulc explained that the Commission is already on track and taking actions in terms of higher efficiency of the transport system, low-emission alternative energy for transport and low and zero-emission vehicles. To achieve higher efficiency of the transport system, pricing of transport is essential. She stated that “the objective is to put a fair price on transport. We should use price signals to manage transport demand, so that inefficient transport is avoided, that the least polluting option is chosen. There is already a lot of good practices in Europe: road charges modulated according to a vehicle’s performances, or it's time and place of use.” To be effective as a steering instrument, users should receive consistent price signals across the EU, which is not the case at the moment.
Future plans of the Commission in regards to road charging:
· The European Commission is preparing a revision of the Eurovignette Directive for spring 2017.
This is a key instrument for the promotion of fair charging and taxation and to contribute to low-emission mobility. It will also look at charges and taxes related to road freight transport and to extend the options available to Member States for charging Heavy Duty Vehicles as well as to reduce the variety of road charging arrangements in Europe.
· Commission is also working on non-discriminatory charging for passenger cars and true interoperability of electronic tolling systems in Europe.
· Finally, the Commission is analysing taxes and charges applied to different transport modes competing for the same journey (passenger and freight) in a specific country.
Commissioner Bulc ensured that in late spring/early summer 2018, the Commission will present and discuss the main findings of this work.