On 25 November – the last day of the Conciliation procedure – the Council and the Parliament finally managed to agree on a deal extending the Austrian ‘ecopoints’ system to the year 2006.
On 25 November, the Conciliation Committee, bringing together representatives from the Council and Parliament, reached an agreement on extending the ‘ecopoints’ system for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 but introduced substantial changes on the way it operates.
The new ecopoint Regulation will be applied to the entire Austrian territory, which was requested by Austria and previously refused by the Parliament.
From 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006, the most polluting lorries (using more than 8 points) will not be allowed to transit through Austria. A quota system for heavy goods vehicles will be applied to vehicles using from 6 to 8 points.
Contrary to the wishes of Austria and environmentalist groups, the new system will allow free access to trucks using low-polluting technology (lorries using 5 points or less).
Parliament, Council and Commission also agreed on the number of points to be allocated to each of the accession countries until 2006. The number of ‘ecopoints’ to be allocated to current and future Member States will be reduced by five per cent in 2005 and a further five per cent in 2006.