Austria says Ecopoints deal is not worth being implemented

MEPs have formally approved the conciliation deal extending the Austrian ‘ecopoints’ system to the year 2006 (with modifications), but Austria says it might not implement it.

On 18 December 2003, the Parliament approved the conciliation agreement reached on 25 November on the Austrian 'ecopoints' system (SeeEURACTIV, 28 November 2003). 348 MEPs voted in favour of the agreement and 102 against (including all of the Austrians representatives).

The agreement was vehemently contested by the Austrian MEPs in the delegation, as well as by the Austrian government representatives. Austrian Transport Minister Hubert Gorbach said that the conciliation deal was "unacceptable" and stated that Austria would not implement the new ecopoints system, which he considers to be neither "controllable" nor "implementable". Austria may end up taking the case to the European Court of Justice on the basis that the aim of the ecopoints system (i.e to achieve by 2003 a 60 per cent reduction in polluting emissions (NOx) from heavy goods vehicles transiting through Austria) was not achieved.

Austrian representatives will now concentrate their efforts on the Draft Directive on infrastructure charging (the so-called 'Eurovignette' Directive) which, once it is adopted, will regulate the charging of heavy goods vehicles on motorways across the EU. Austrian Transport Minister, Hurbert Gorbach, will meet on 23 December with Austrian MEPs and MPs to discuss this issue.



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